This story may seem pretty mundane at the outset, but the implications of it could be more profound than we realize.
From an article on LiveScience.com
Mind-Control Parasite Kills Mice’s Fear of Cats Permanently
By Douglas Main, Staff Writer September 19, 2013
A fair amount of research has taken place on Toxoplasma gondii, the bizarre parasite that makes mice unafraid of cats, and the latest chapter is a strange one.
The protozoan is known to cause this change in mice after a lingering infection and after it produces cysts in the mouse brain, according to the study, published online Sept. 18 in the journal PLOS ONE. But until now scientists didn’t know this apparently long-lasting change could occur after only a short infection, and without development of cysts and brain inflammation. The study also showed the change occurred with weakened forms of all three major variants of the protozoa found in North America.
“It is remarkable that even after the infection has been largely or completely cleared, a profound behavioral change persists,” said Wendy Ingram, a study author and researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, in a statement from PLOS ONE. “Simply having a transient infection resulting in what is potentially a permanent change in host biology may have huge implications for infectious disease medicine.”
Toxoplasma gondii is found throughout the world and infects a large number of mammals, including humans. However, the protozoan can only reproduce within the bodies of cats, and in mice, the mind-controlling parasite has evidently evolved to make mice unafraid of felines and even, according to some research, sexually attracted to the odor of cat urine; this makes it more likely infected mice will be eaten, and the parasite will make it back into a cat to spawn.
Except it does not actually end so well for the mouse. It is enough to make you wonder, not only if this side effect of infection might not be repurposed (or if this lends some credence to conspiracy theorists claims) but if we are already not under the effects of some similar infection. What could this NOT do? Could UFOs, abductions, ghosts, any sort of unexplained experience be casued by similar infection?
For anyone who does not recognize this scenario outright, this is a still from “Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan” where Chekov has been captured by the wrathful Khan and a parasitic organism introduced which enters his brain through his ear (without any other apparent damage in typical Star Trek logic) and wraps itself around his brainstem effectively brainwashing him susceptible to another person’s will. It seemed highly implausible at the time I first saw it.
Still sounds far fetched doesn’t it?
From and article in The Atlantic Monthly
How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy
Kathleen Mcauliffe, Feb 6, 2012
Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?
But if Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”
Read the full article Here
Genetic engineering is still in its infancy in many ways, but can manipulation of a simple organism like this be far off?
Still, more evidence that cat owners are crazy. As if we did not know.
Come get infected by us at FaceBook where we will implant updates and more directly to your brain.
TOM AND JERRY and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Turner Entertainment Co.3 comments