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Sunday, February 12th 2006

Parasites & Schizophrenia

On the fringes,” but still pretty creepy.

Under normal circumstances, a rat steers clear of cats and their odours. But rats infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii develop a deadly attraction to the feline scent. This abnormal behaviour often leads them to the mouth of their predator, and allows the parasite to enter and complete its reproductive cycle in the cat.

What’s a little strange is that there is some evidence linking maternal Toxoplasmosis infection with the risk of the fetus developing schizophrenia later in life. As well, anti-schizophrenic drugs were just as effective as relieving the rat attraction to feline scent as anti-parasitic drugs targeted to Toxoplasma gondii.

H/T Slashdot.

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