Women who are infected with a common parasite may be more likely to hurt themselves or attempt suicide, a new study of over 45,000 new moms in Denmark suggests.
The infection, known as toxoplasmosis, is caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Humans can become chronically infected by eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables or by handling cat litter, as the parasite is known to multiply in the gut of infected cats.
Toxoplasmosis is often symptom-free, but can be dangerous in people with weak immune systems or during pregnancy, since the parasite may be passed to babies.
Some studies have linked the parasite to a higher chance of developing schizophrenia, and researchers believe because the T. gondii parasite lives in the brain, it could have an effect on emotions and behavior.
Source: Reuters Health
The film demonstrates the morphology, invasion behaviour and life cycle of the parasite in tissue culture, partly in computer animation.
Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic infections throughout the world. According to one estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to one-quarter of Americans may be infected, and up to one-third of the world’s population. At NIMBioS, Dr. Xiaopeng Zhao is co-organizer of a workshop in which a multi-disciplinary group of scientists will study Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes infection.
Parasites and the Brain: An Investigation of Toxoplasma Gondii and Schizophrenia:
Toxoplasmosis: Prevention and Treatment: