Cats are cute, cats are cuddly, and they’re the stars of YouTube, but cats are also carriers of an extremely dangerous parasite.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) has been known to cause illness, developmental disorders and even in some cases death. Researchers now have greater evidence to link the cat-carried parasite to mental disorders such as schizophrenia and even bipolar disorder.
A recent study published in Schizophrenia Research examined other studies and found that childhood cat ownership may be a risk for schizophrenia later on in life. A second study, published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, found that an individual infected with T. gondii was just about twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.
“In schizophrenia, the evidence of an association with T. gondii is overwhelming,” the authors say in a press release. “These findings may give further clues about how T. gondii infection can possibly [alter] the risk of specific psychiatric disorders.”
How can you protect yourself from this?
Outdoor cats are much more likely to carry T. gondii than indoor cats are, according to same the report.
Cat owners can protect themselves from the parasite by keeping cats indoors exclusively and by covering the litterbox when it’s not being used. CBS reports that it is also best to change the litter daily, since T. gondii is not infectious until one to five days after it’s shed in feces.
CBS News story: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cat-parasite-toxoplasma-gondii-linked-to-mental-illness-schizophrenia/