About those headlines saying that cat poop is linked to explosive rage in humans–scientists are actually telling us to calm down about it. While a parasite that spreads through feline feces definitely has an effect on rats and mice (and is a danger to pregnant women’s fetuses), its effect on humans is less clear.
The Washington Post clarifies that yes, people can get the parasitic toxoplasmosis infection from their cat’s litter box, but they can also get it from water or undercooked meat. And when that Journal of Clinical Psychiatry study found that people with Intermittent Explosive Disorder–which can manifest itself into road rage–are more than twice as likely to have been exposed to the toxoplasmosis parasite, they’re talking about a correlation that requires further investigation, as researcher Royce Lee explains:
But there’s no reason to shun cats, Lee said. This study, like many others, didn’t come close to determining that toxoplasmosis causes the psychiatric disorder. It could be, for example, that people who already have these kinds of disorders seek out the company of cats or eat more raw meat, and then get toxoplasmosis, he said. There’s much more research to be done, he said.
Some humans infected with toxoplasmosis exhibit no symptoms, or mild flu-like ones, while other studies have linked it to serious disorders like schizophrenia (again, though, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation). Until more studies are done, the jury is out on how exactly toxoplasmosis can affect us. So, for now, keep on playing with that cat.
(via Washington Post)