foster cat

A flurry of media articles broke out last year, associating cat ownership and exposure to human mental health problems including schizophrenia, and attributed it to cats as carriers of toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic protozoan. Was the hype justified?

No, writes Best Friends Animal Society’s Peter Wolf on Vox Felina, citing an article about a paper recently published in the journal PLoS ONE:

The post, “The Myth of ‘Mind-Altering Parasite’ Toxoplasma Gondii?,” summarizes the research very well, and is structured in a way that makes it quite reader-friendly. No need to cover the same ground here, then. Instead, I’d like to comment briefly on the paper itself, in which Duke University’s Karen Sugden and her co-authors report:

“Our results suggest that a positive test for T. gondii antibodies does not result in increased susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders, poor impulse control or impaired neurocognitive ability. Moreover, we found no association between seropositivity and aberrant personality functions.”

In other words, there’s no evidence that infection with t. gondii causes behavioral illness in humans. Pass it on.

Read the full post: “Toxo ‘Hype Train’ Running Out of Steam?”

Also of interest:

Toxoplasmosis: Truth, fiction, and crazy cat ladies

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