Toxoplasma Parasite Makes People More Attractive

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Toxoplasma
Courtesy of Mohamed Aymen Bettaieb (Flickr CC0)

Recent research in Finland revealed that Toxoplasma gondii is responsible for some neurological disorders, including psychotic episodes or schizophrenia. But, its strangest effect is that people view infected individuals as more attractive to the opposite sex.

The study’s authors found that both men and women infected with Toxoplasma look more attractive and healthier-looking. The researchers theorize the strange connection and benefit between the host and the parasite and the symbiotic relationship that helps the parasite spread through having more sexual partners.

The Parasite May Change How The Face Looks

Previous studies revealed that the Toxoplasma gondii parasite gives higher testosterone levels in men. Still, others suspect that the parasite manipulates the host’s body’s chemicals, hormones, neurotransmitters, etc.

In the researchers’ experiment of 35 college students (13 women and 22 men) infected with Toxoplasma gondii and 178 students without the parasite, it showed that the faces of infected students had lower levels of changing asymmetry than healthy college students.

What is Toxoplasma Gondii Parasite

Toxoplasma gondii is a microscopic parasite capable of infecting birds, mammals, and people, and there is no drug to eradicate the parasite or approved vaccine for humans.

About 30–50% of people are infected with Toxoplasma worldwide, and infections are increasing in Australia. A recent community-based study in Western Australia revealed that about 66% of people were infected. Infection begins by ingesting undercooked contaminated meat from infected cat feces, or infected mothers transmit the disease to their unborn child.

Toxoplasma
Courtesy of kqedquest (Flickr CC0)

The Cat is the Primary Host

Cats acquire the parasite when eating infected prey and then pass the parasites in their feces that can survive the environment, even during extreme weather.

When livestock ingests the feces, parasites lodge in the muscle and survive after the animals’ meat, infecting humans.

How to Diagnose Toxoplasma Gondii Parasite

A retina examination is required to diagnose ocular toxoplasmosis.
The retinal lesion is easy to spot because ophthalmologists can easily recognize the Toxoplasma proteins.

In mild conditions, the body’s immune system will control the problem in a few months with anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory drugs.

How to Stop the Spread?

People can prevent the Toxoplasma infection, but it is not curable. Freezing and cooking meat to 66℃ (150.8°F) can kill the parasite—wash vegetables and meat before eating. Wear gloves when changing cat litter and wash hands properly.

The World Health Organization and other International Health experts, promote One Health to combat Toxoplasma infections for diseases that cross animals, humans, and their environments.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

Live Science: Parasite that controls cat minds may infect billions of people. The clue is in their eyes; by Justine R. Smith , Joao M. Furtado
Study Finds: Brain-altering parasite makes infected people MORE attractive to others, study says; Chris Melore
MelMagazine: THE CAT POOP PARASITE THAT WILL MAKE YOU MORE ATTRACTIVE

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of kqedquest’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Mohamed Aymen Bettaieb’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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