[extropy-chat] Controlled by a cat parasite

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Fri Apr 13 01:45:15 UTC 2007

I read somewhere that approximately half the human population is  
already infected.  Hmm.

On Mar 12, 2007, at 4:51 AM, Amara Graps wrote:

> Whoa!
> Instead of finding drugs to alter our moods, let's infect ourselves  
> with
> toxoplasmosis instead! OK, maybe not.
> I wonder if those cultures that value boys beyond the normal sex ratio
> would take to this? Or maybe they already are? Or maybe the parasite
> is the result of practices already in place, now in a feedback loop?
> Amara
> http://www.boingboing.net/2007/03/11/cat_parasite_rules_o.html
>  From Boing Boing
> <begin quote>
> Cat parasite rules our lives
> Vann sez, "As a follow-up to Cory's entry in January of last year  
> on how
> toxoplasmosis may alter people's moods (women become more friendly;  
> men
> become more paranoid), recent studies suggest that infection by the
> parasite may also cause people to become more prone to feeling guilty,
> develop schizophrenia, have auto accidents, or be born male."
> U.S. Geological Survey biologist Kevin Lafferty has linked high  
> rates of
> toxoplasmosis infection in 39 countries with elevated incidences of
> neuroticism, suggesting the mind-altering organism may be affecting  
> the
> cultures of nations.
> Stranger still, parasitologist Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in
> Prague thinks T. gondii could also be skewing our sex ratios. When he
> looked at the clinical records of more than 1,800 babies born from  
> 1996
> to 2004, he noted a distinct trend: The normal sex ratio is 104 boys
> born for every 100 girls, but in women with high levels of antibodies
> against the parasite, the ratio was 260 boys for every 100 girls.
> Exactly how the parasite might be tipping the odds in favor of males
> isn't understood, but Flegr points out that it is known to suppress  
> the
> immune system of its hosts, and because the maternal immune system
> sometimes attacks male fetuses in very early pregnancy, the parasite's
> ability to inhibit the immune response might protect future boys as  
> well
> as itself.
> <end quote>
> -- 
> Amara Graps, PhD      www.amara.com
> INAF Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario (IFSI), Roma,  
> Associate Research Scientist, Planetary Science Institute (PSI),  
> Tucson
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