A Brain Parasite Might Be Making Us Angrier
Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite once generally considered harmless, has been linked to mental illness, suicide attempts and now aggression.By Steven Sparkman | March 23, 2016
More and more studies are hinting that our brains might not be completely our own. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii, Toxo for short, may be changing human behavior — perhaps even making us angrier and more aggressive.
Toxo is one of those frightening parasites capable of controlling its hosts. It reproduces in the stomachs of cats, and it's always trying to get back inside one. So when an animal, usually a mouse or rat, becomes infected through contact with cat poop, the parasite gets into the rodent's brain and literally rewires it. Basically, it makes its host fall in love with cats so it'll go find one and get eaten.
Humans can contract the parasite, too, through eating unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat. And, obviously, through cat poop. But while it can pose problems for pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems, it's generally not considered a threat to human health.