Sunday, August 05, 2007


Have you ever faced a terrible predicament but able to evade it with a good and truthful alibi? I experienced it yesterday and the feeling was so exhilarating! If only I could execute it more often. If only...


Anyway, the alibi turned out to be enjoyable as always. We spent quality time playing with cute feline beings and discussed several issues pertaining to them. Ma'am (Jo Kontan's wife) related to me recently about her niece who was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, presenting with visual disturbances (central scotoma). So toxoplasmosis was the heated topic last night, :p

Refreshing up my knowledge on it, I surfed the net and discovered some very interesting facts. Here are some mind-boggling info:

Biological modifications of the host
The parasite itself can cause various effects on the host body, some of which are not fully understood.

Reproductive changes
A recent study has indicated Toxoplasmosis correlates strongly with an increase in boy births in humans.

Behavioral changes
It has been found that the parasite has the ability to change the behavior of its host: infected rats and mice are less fearful of cats - in fact, some of the infected rats seek out cat-urine-marked areas. This effect is advantageous to the parasite, which will be able to sexually reproduce if its host is eaten by a cat.

The findings of behavioral alteration in rats and mice have led some scientists to speculate that toxoplasma may have similar effects in humans.The behaviors observed, if caused by the parasite, are likely due to infection and low-grade encephalitis, which is marked by the presence of cysts in the brain, which may produce or induce production of a neurotransmitter, possibly dopamine, therefore acting similarly to dopamine reuptake inhibitor type antidepressants and stimulants.

"In populations where this parasite is very common, mass personality modification could result in cultural change. [Variations in the prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii] may explain a substantial proportion of human population differences we see in cultural aspects that relate to ego, money, material possessions, work and rules." — Kevin Lafferty

Correlations have been found between latent Toxoplasma infections and various characteristics:

* Increased risk taking behavior
* Slower reactions
* Feelings of insecurity and self-doubt
* Neuroticism (one of the Big Five personality traits)

(personal note: could it be that many of our politicians are infected with toxoplasma?)

Notable people with toxoplasmosis
* Martina Navratilova (tennis player) retired from a competition in 1982 with mystery 'virus' later found to be due to the illness
* Arthur Ashe developed neurological problems from toxoplasmosis (later found to be HIV-positive)
* Leslie Ash contracted toxoplasmosis in the second month of pregnancy
* François, comte de Clermont, is Dauphin of France, Orlean pretender to the French Throne. Both he and his younger sister Blanche are mentally disabled due to toxoplasmosis-related ailments.
* Louis Wain was a prominent cat artist who later developed schizophrenia which some believe to be due to his constant exposure to cats and thus Toxoplasmosis

Wow! And all that are caused by a microscopic protozoa that is shaped like a banana?? Masyallah! Maybe we should all check for toxoplasma antibodies in our blood ASAP!!


easylady said...

she does not have squinting or lazy eye.She loves playing with cats.She probably got it when she was 7 or 8.She is somewhat lucky also as the macula of left eye is not affected.

Inilah dia, org tua-tua kata cacing naik kat mata.

Sampai aje kat rumah terus rasa nak kasi orang kucing yang ada kat rumah.

kenakelayan said...

:) Interesting post. eXTRA READING:

Higher perceived dominance in Toxoplasma infected men--a new evidence for role of increased level of testosterone in toxoplasmosis-associated changes in human behavior.

Hodková H, Kolbeková P, Skallová A, Lindová J, Flegr J.

Department of Parasitology, Charles University, Vinièná 7, Prague 128 44, Czech Republic.

Toxoplasma is parasite of cats that uses any warm-blooded animals as intermediate hosts. It is known to induce shifts in behavior, physiology and even morphology of its intermediate hosts, including humans. The lower second to fourth digit ratio (2D:4D ratio) in infected man and women, and higher height in infected man suggest that sex steroid hormones like testosterone could play a role in these shifts. Here, we searched for another indirect indication for a higher postnatal testosterone level, i.e. increased perceived dominance and masculinity in infected men. We showed portrait pictures of 89 male students of which 18 were Toxoplasma-infected to 109 female students. When we statistically corrected for age, men with latent toxoplasmosis were perceived as more dominant (p=0.009) and masculine (p=0.052). These results support the idea that the higher level of testosterone could be responsible for at least some of the toxoplasmosis-associated shifts in human and animal behavior.

Interestingly, banyak study pasal behavioural changes in toxo-infected humans were done in the Czech Republic. Nape yek?

simah said...

interesting... thanks 4 the facts... it is good to know :0)

so if i change my behaviour for whatever reason..i can just blame it to toxoplasma? hehehehe

on a more serious note... do peole really check their blood for toxoplasma?

dith said...

Easylady- Forgot to ask. Was the macular badly scarred?

KKL- Shall we ask those who are in desperate need of a male offspring to rear cats?? :))

Chzech republic eh? Hmmm..

Simah- We only do the test when there are symptoms of toxoplasmosis.

easylady said...

very bad,as big as the optic disc. if she closes the L eye,she can only see headless person.

kenakelayan said...

Easylady: kesian kat your niece...

DITH: Kalau tanya peminat kucing memang akan kata okay punya, jangan takut. Lagi bagus tanya kat orang yang pernah bela kucing hutan... hehehe.
IMO, I would prefer to wait until studies by other groups validate the theory about behaviour. Hairan jugak most of these studies come from the same country and the same group.

hiyoshi said...

This is why mum doesn't allow us to keep cats.

Anyway, toxoplasmosis came out in my recent parasitology test. It's a good thing the question didn't ask about all the famous people who suffered from it.

dith said...


Well, if they did ask that, you can always name any famous figure/ politician on earth. With all the unpredictable things people do today, I am sure Toxoplasma has a big role!! hehe

ikelah said...

i think i have toxoplasma in me. ;)

dith said...

ikelah- go test Toxoplasma IgG and IgM

kenakelayan said...

Me too. Ada kat Pathlab ke?

On another note, do you recognise this cat?

Has said...

Roza, Eh betul ker? Sampai mass personality change. Kalau you tak letak ref. dia sure I ingat you dok mengarut, he he.

So macam mana nih? DH dok chemo and dok main kucing hari2, apa ubat dia?

Please complete with treatment. Kalau kucing2 tak main kat luar dan tak kawan dengan kucing lain, dan hanya makan royal canine, boleh ker kucing tu get infected?

Has said...

KKL, there is another way to intepret the study: Macho man are cat lovers, thus predispose them more to toxo.

Kalau betul toxo gondi ni menyebabkan pengeluaran testosteron berlebihan, maka elok juga dibuat tahap libido atau keseksuala orang-orang macam DITH yang suka dan selalu kutip kucing and kucing products, he he he.

KKL said...

Kak Has, my thoughts exactly!!! I thought they were too liberal with their conclusions. They didn't exclude other possible interpretations, however it goes against their results.

ikelah said...

KKL, macam ponky je kucing LAPERM tu.

just got back from LVP5.

dith said...

KKL- kat Gribbles ada

Has- I guess kalau kucing tu is not a host and doent mix with others, then tak patut la ada kan? Anyway the treatment: Acute toxoplasmosis

During acute toxoplasmosis, symptoms are often influenza-like: swollen lymph nodes, or muscle aches and pains that last for a month or more. Rarely, a patient with a fully functioning immune system may develop eye damage from toxoplasmosis. Young children and immunocompromised patients, such as those with HIV/AIDS, those taking certain types of chemotherapy, or those who have recently received an organ transplant, may develop severe toxoplasmosis. This can cause damage to the brain or the eyes. Only a small percentage of infected newborn babies have serious eye or brain damage at birth.


The vast majority of patients with a normal immune system do not require any treatment.

Patients with HIV/AIDS or patients who are immunosuppressed should be given sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine. Pregnant women who become ill with acute toxoplasmosis should be treated with spiramycin. Folinic acid (leucovorin) is administered in all cases to reduce the bone marrow suppression caused by pyrimethamine.

Latent toxoplasmosis

Most patients who become infected with Toxoplasma gondii and develop toxoplasmosis do not know it. In most immunocompetent patients, the infection enters a latent phase, during which only bradyzoites are present, forming cysts in nervous and muscle tissue. Most infants who are infected while in the womb have no symptoms at birth but may develop symptoms later in life.


The cysts are immune to the standard acute treatments, as the antibiotics do not reach the bradyzoites in sufficient concentration.

The antibiotic atovaquone has been used to kill Toxoplasma cysts in situ in AIDS patients.

Mat Derih said...

I don't have T.gondii. Anak kawan ramai pompuan.

dith said...

Mat Derih,

T gondii tengok awok pon takut! hehe

red said...

i first know of T gondii when ikelah described it to me many years ago even before he got married. i was around standard 2 or 3 and the tale he told me pointed to the fact that i should wash my hands after playing with cats.

may be when i was a teenager i had it in me considering the daredevil stunts i used to do in silat. if i still have it now, i might pass for a mat rempit.

dith said...


Agreed! The daredevil in you is an explicit case of T gondii at work! It is so pronounced in yourself that you may actually be T gondii in disguise, hehe

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