Global Mind Control, not just possible, probable!

Preposterous? Behold the power of parasites. No, not the science fiction kind, the science kind. Carl Zimmer, author of Parasites Rex, shares some interesting facts about a parasite which infects half of all the human beings presently on our planet (and it’s possible link to schizophrenia).

Are brain parasites altering the personalities of three billion people? The question emerged a few years ago, and it shows no signs of going away.

I first encountered this idea while working on my book Parasite Rex. I was investigating the remarkable ability parasites have to manipulate the behavior of their hosts. The lancet fluke Dicrocoelium dendriticum, for example, forces its ant host to clamp itself to the tip of grass blades, where a grazing mammal might eat it. It's in the fluke's interest to get eaten, because only by getting into the gut of a sheep or some other grazer can it complete its life cycle. Another fluke, Euhaplorchis californiensis, causes infected fish to shimmy and jump, greatly increasing the chance that wading birds will grab them.

Forces the host to 'kill itself'? Is this X-File territory? Where did my serum go... you know, my antidote to the alien virus that you can tell you have because black stuff floats around in your eyes... and where did my tin-foil hat get to?

Of course, these parasites do not 'control' their hosts in any conscious sense. Anymore than a drug does when ingested, but the fact that these parasites are living things is what seems so... well, alien.

Those parasites were weird enough, but then I got to know Toxoplasma gondii. This single-celled parasite lives in the guts of cats, sheddding eggs that can be picked up by rats and other animals that can just so happen be eaten by cats. Toxoplasma forms cysts throughout its intermediate host's body, including the brain. And yet a Toxoplasma-ridden rat is perfectly healthy. That makes good sense for the parasite, since a cat would not be particularly interested in eating a dead rat. But scientists at Oxford discovered that the parasite changes the rats in one subtle but vital way.

Great. A cat parasite. We just got a cat. Or did we? Actually, it adopted us. I wonder if there is something going here. Cat shows up at our door and won't leave. Of course the kids love it. Now we have a cat and I am most likely going to be infected by Toxoplasma. Toxoplasma?

... The scientists speculated that Toxoplasma was secreted some substance that was altering the patterns of brain activity in the rats. This manipulation likely evolved through natural selection, since parasites that were more likely to end up in cats would leave more offpsring.

The Oxford scientists knew that humans can be hosts to Toxoplasma, too. People can become infected by its eggs by handling soil or kitty litter. For most people, the infection causes no harm. Only if a person's immune system is weak does Toxoplasma grow uncontrollably. That's why pregnant women are advised not to handle kitty litter, and why toxoplasmosis is a serious risk for people with AIDS. Otherwise, the parasite lives quietly in people's bodies (and brains). It's estimated that about half of all people on Earth are infected with Toxoplasma.

One thing I do not need is to have my brain activity altered any more than it already has been.

Given that human and rat brains have a lot of similarities (they share the same basic anatomy and use the same neurotransmitters), a question naturally arose: if Toxoplasma can alter the behavior of a rat, could it alter a human? Obviously, this manipulation would not do the parasite any good as an adaptation, since it's pretty rare for a human to be devoured by a cat. But it could still have an effect.

Some scientists believe that Toxoplasma changes the personality of its human hosts, bringing different shifts to men and women. Parasitologist Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague administered psychological questionnaires to people infected with Toxoplasma and controls. Those infected, he found, show a small, but statistically significant, tendency to be more self-reproaching and insecure. Paradoxically, infected women, on average, tend to be more outgoing and warmhearted than controls, while infected men tend to be more jealous and suspicious.

Fascinating. Knowing how this works would be useful for the super secret organization (the international jewish neo-con conspiracy no doubt) which secretly controls all the world's governments and is even now plotting to create a one world government... Or maybe the toxoplasma has gone to my head?

The most interesting part is in the end.

It's controversial work, disputed by many. But it attracted the attention of E. Fuller Torrey of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. Torrey and his colleagues had noticed some intriguing links between Toxoplasma and schizophrenia. Infection with the parasite has been associated with damage to a certain class of neurons (astrocytes). So has schizophrenia. Pregnant women with high levels of Toxoplasma antibodies in their blood were more likely to give birth to children who would later develop schizophrenia. Torrey lays out more links in this 2003 paper. While none is a smoking gun, they are certainly food for thought. It's conceivable that exposure to Toxoplasma causes subtle changes in most people's personality, but in a small minority, it has more devastating effects.

A year later, Torrey and his colleagues discovered one more fascinating link. They raised human cells in Petri dishes and infected them with Toxoplasma. Then they dosed the cells with a variety of drugs used to treat schizophrenia. Several of the drugs--most notably haloperidol--blocked the growth of the parasite.

Ladies and gentlemen, take another look at your cat. They seem affectionate, but are they? They come and go as they please. Not like dogs. No, man's best friend leaps for joy when you come home from a hard days work in the salt mines. Cats, are less enthused about you, and more enthused about the meal you are about to feed them.

Take a cold hard look. What do you really know about your cat? Does he/she (it) see you as a master or a slave? While you work everyday to be able to buy Meow-mix to feed your cat they lounge around draped across the floor or at the foot of your bed like spoiled and pampered royalty.

Think about it. In a cat's mind you are the slave. They are affectionate just as any master would be with their favorite servants. What better way to domesticate mankind than with a little known and completely unnotable parasite that also turns rodents into easier prey as well.

Are cats actually an alien race here to enslave us?

Hmmm. Food for thought.

Posted by Eric Simonson at November 30, 2006 11:23 PM
Comments
Comment #197186
Those infected, he found, show a small, but statistically significant, tendency to be more self-reproaching and insecure. Paradoxically, infected women, on average, tend to be more outgoing and warmhearted than controls. …

Uh oh, fellow liberals, they’re onto us. If they find a cure we’ll no longer hate ourselves while enjoying all that free love.

Posted by: Trent at November 30, 2006 11:52 PM
Comment #197188

Now I know what was wrong with my second wife!

Posted by: KansasDem at December 1, 2006 12:11 AM
Comment #197191

Well, if all that is true, I’ve got to go speak with my fellow Illuminati about forgoing flouridation for felines.

Or maybe it’s Chemtrails for canines?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 1, 2006 1:19 AM
Comment #197203

Eric, while I would normally take this as satire, given your posts on Iraq, I’m beginning to envision you wrapped in tin foil.

Posted by: gergle at December 1, 2006 5:01 AM
Comment #197207

Eric,

After reading your latest articles, I can only assume you are compiling a portfolio for your new job at the National Enquirer.

How long before we see articles about “bat boy”, or Navy fighters orbiting Mars?

Posted by: Rocky at December 1, 2006 5:55 AM
Comment #197209

Damn this displays all the symptoms of my failed first and only marriage. My ex was easy and I was definetly suspicious and jealous. Now that I think about it all our problems started about the time we got our first cat. She actually dried the cat to death in the clothes dryer. All those toxins probably entered our bodies via those nice warm clean and parasite infested clothes.

Food for thought Eric. But not much more. Thanks for the early morning laugh.

Posted by: ILdem at December 1, 2006 8:19 AM
Comment #197217


I wonder how long it will take scientists to isolate the parasite responsible for Bushitis. This disease is affecting a good 30% of our population. The disease causes it’s victims to have an undying faith in a leader that is politically incompetent.

Posted by: jlw at December 1, 2006 9:25 AM
Comment #197239

Eric,
This reply is that sometimes the unknown ain’t so bad, once it actually occurs. It’s the panicking that causes the most problem. Your post is sort of a panic oriented post. Please be careful about how you word your articles.

Actually,
I have had Toxoplasmois. Over 23 years ago, in November, my ex- husband moved our family into a rental house that had, we found out later housed 24 cats. Apparently when I was cleaning the floors, I ingested some of the kitty litter. It was also one of the worse flu seasons our little town had, with over 33 deaths, out of a population of 1700+.

A few facts about this parasite. By time one reaches 25 it is estimated that 80% of the population has acquired this parasite. It usually resides, dormant in the muscle tissue without causing any significant problems.

If however, as it did with me, it gets into the lymphatic system, then all hell can break loose.
Fairly rapidly. In my case the following events took over 2 months before diagnosis. I was actually recoving before anyone knew what was wrong. Thank God.

My first symptom was forgetfulness. I don’t mean not remembering where the keys are. I mean arriving at a shopping center, and not knowing where I was, why I’d come, or how to get home, or even how to start the car again. Or frying chicken and suddenly be standing there, holding a floured leg, and not being able to figure out what to do with it. While other chicken pieces merrily cooked away. As a young mother of 3 little girls I as terrified. What if I forgot something important - like where they were, etc.

Then I started developing large nodules, behind my ears, (the size of medium eggs or small lemons) in my neck, and the rest of my body.

I’d already seen my doctor about my memory problems, however he’d basically blown me away. He had even less to say when he saw the lumps, not because he was not concerned by then, but had no earthly idea what was going on. A MRI reveal several nodules growing in my brain area, as well as internally. All together I had 47 different lumps, inside and out.

He did a biopsy one of the lumps behind my right ear, and sent it to the CDC. I was in his office, waiting to see him when he received the report, by phone. First they offered their condolences over my death, because it had taken them over 4 weeks to isolate the problem, and due to the rapid onset of my symptoms they assume I’d died.

In reality, I was doing much better. During the time period I was experiencing the nodules, my immune system kicked in. I was able to ward off common colds, headaches, and in general most anything that would have been a sign I was actually getting sick. Everyone in my family had the flu - bad cases. We nearly lost one of my twins. Me, however, I was going strong. One thing about caring for others who are sick, one doesn’t have a lot of time to worry about strange lumps growing in one’s underarms. Or rather receding.

Having taken no medication, being assumed dead by the CDC, I was in terrific health, once all the lumps disappeared. It took almost 8 mos. for them all to go away. Another MRI a year later, showed all signs of the disease were gone. My doctors and others wanted to know why.

The results of over a year’s worth of study determined that the parasite had not actually hurt me at all in the long run. My symptoms appeared shortly after infection, but as time went by, the lumps were reabsorbed into my system, actually causing my immune system to go into over-drive, if you will. My experience was written up in JAMA. I wish I knew the exact date and article name so I could refer you to it, but frankly I’ve forgotten.

For the next 20 years after, due to my usually high tolerance to diseases, I have donated plasma and blood for research being done for Aids, the various flu viruses, developing a cure\vaccine for women to take so their cats would not be a hazard to the health of a babies while pregnant.

I am now in my mid-fifties, and do not suffer from the normal aches and pains most people are starting with. I have never had the flu (no flu shots), don’t remember the last cold I had, eat like a horse, (no I’m not over weight), do not have high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. The only side effect I’ve experienced since recoving is Anemia - I’m always tired. I do take iron pills, and shots to keep my iron level at in a normal area.

By the way I own,(or they own me) 4 loving indoor cats, and a Golden Lab - also indoors. Needless to say I clean a lot.

Posted by: Linda H. at December 1, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #197243

Linda H,

Not to belittle your experience, but have you done any research into how often this happens?

What percentage of the population might expect to see different symptoms?

Eric’s posts tend toward the preposterous, and to actually see this in a serious light would be helpful.

Posted by: Rocky at December 1, 2006 12:48 PM
Comment #197252

Eric,

After actually looking at the CDC website;

http://www.cdc.gov/NCIDOD/dpd/parasites/toxoplasmosis/factsht_toxoplasmosis.htm

These are the “at risk” people;

“Infants born to mothers who became infected with Toxoplasma for the first time during or just before pregnancy.
Persons with severely weakened immune systems, such as individuals with HIV/AIDS, those taking certain types of chemotherapy, and those who have recently received an organ transplant.”

Common hygiene will prevent the transmission from cat feces to a human.

Gee Eric, no liberals to slay?

Posted by: Rocky at December 1, 2006 1:17 PM
Comment #197253

“The disease causes it’s victims to have an undying faith in a leader that is politically incompetent.”

Thats not the worst of it though.
Another 30% actually believe that the placebo, “liberal-tin,” will actually cure it.

Posted by: kctim at December 1, 2006 1:19 PM
Comment #197257

The only thing I know for sure about the nature of kitty cats is that if they were bigger they would rip off their owners limbs and bat around their decapitated head like a ball of yarn, all the while not thinking twice about the long term implications of their actions. Cats are very close to wild animals, provide very little direct help to humans, and seem to only be affectionate when it suits their own interests. I still think they are cute and novel pets, but I would take a dumb, blindly loyal and easily manipulated dog any day of the week. They truly are man’s best friend.

If I manage outlive my wife, I I know I can always rely on some trusty mutt to be by my side until I join her. A dog lives for its owner. A cat lives for itself.

I didn’t realize I was going to go into an anti-cat rant, but I have never really understood the mind of the cat-lover. Is the lonely old woman with 24 cats really being well served by her choice in company? Its an eye of the beholder thing, but the aftermath is usually more sad than not. Instead of a faithful dog refusing to leave the side of its deceased owner, you have a house full of wild acting animals running amuck.

Linda H-

I enjoyed your story. I read about the parasite when my wife was pregnant, but never really gave much thought about it outside of that context. I’m amazed you still keep 4 cats after your ordeal. I’m curious, what is it about your cats that appeals to you more than, say, a dog would?

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 1, 2006 1:44 PM
Comment #197259

jlw & kctim-

The remaining 40% of people would like nothing more than for each of those 30% blocks to quit flinging shit around and start helping to clean it up for a change.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 1, 2006 1:52 PM
Comment #197260

Won’t ever happen Kev23.

Posted by: kctim at December 1, 2006 1:57 PM
Comment #197261

Kctim-

The name is Kevin. Unless you want to be intimate with me, or want to start buying me beers after work, there is no need to refer to me by pet names.

Posted by: Kevin23 at December 1, 2006 2:07 PM
Comment #197296

Rocky,

Gee Eric, no liberals to slay?

I thought I’d give the poor liberal souls here at watchblog a break and a chance to berate me for my quirky sense of humor for a change instead of just my ‘hatred’ of liberals.

Never fear though, I have an unending supply of anti-socialist literature up here, [**sound of knuckles tapping head**].

I thought the subject was fascinating and bizarre. You know, probably the same reason I’m drawn to study and critique liberal political ideology.

Posted by: esimonson at December 1, 2006 5:31 PM
Comment #197301

Eric,

“I thought the subject was fascinating and bizarre.”

If I was in to cat poop, I think I might worry.
However, my wife has a cat, and I occasionally empty the box, common sense dictates I wash my hands.

This seems like a no brainer, but maybe I’m just over thinking things.

Posted by: Rocky at December 1, 2006 5:57 PM
Comment #197338

Linda H
Thank you for sharing your story.
I think it’s human nature for people to go off on their own tangents from what we read and no little about.
I’m appreciative that you felt comfortable enough to share your real-live experience with us.

Thank you.
Christine

Posted by: Christine at December 1, 2006 9:52 PM
Comment #197382

Rocky,
Scientiest believe that over 80% of all humans have already picked up the parasite. Most have had it since they were toddles. (the age when everything goes in to the mouth.) It usually lands in the muscle tissue, where it stays dormant until the human dies.

Even most pregnant women already have the bloomin’ thing enbedded somewhere. However because it is a parasite, one can get it again, in differing areas of the body, although not likely. My doctors and the CDC seem to think that for some unknown reason I was just not exposed to cats growing up. That’s why I had not built up any antibodies to fight the disease. My infection apparently entered through in my right eye, as I actually had my very first problems occur there. I most likely cleaned and rubbed my arm or hand across my face with out realizing it.

***PREGNANCY and this parasite DO NOT GET ALONG.
It can cause deformities and even death for un born babies.

MEN: This is a great time to show your famiy how much you care for them - clean all litter boxes! Do not let pregnant Mom or trying to get pregnant Mom near litter boxes. Cats can stay as long as they are contained, away for Mom. TALK to your doctors!!!!!!

Kevin23,
You must have missed the golden lab I mentioned - Barley runs the entire house single handedly. No help needed from our cats.

I blame the original home owners, not the cats. If they had been responsible cat peopele, and not allowed the cats to mess all over the house, I most likely wouldn’t have gotten sick. We stayed in the house less than a week, before finding something most suitable. During the time we were there, none of my girls touched anything - they were stuck in the playpen for the whole time.

BTW- True indoor cats are not as likely to get the parasites.It is passed on to them when they catch mice or rats. That’s not to say it isn’t possible.

Christine,
Thank you for your kind words. This is not a disease I would wish on my worse enemy. There were many more symptoms than I mentioned here. None of them much fun. I do hope that my experience helps calm fears, and gives a little straight forward information.

Posted by: Linda H. at December 2, 2006 3:40 AM
Comment #197478

Eric

Great Post Eric!!

You nailed it. Now we know what the reasoning behind J. Kerry’s botched joke. I knew we would find the answer.

And it also is the answer to Howard “the scream” Dean’s verbal response that sunk is boat.

Only one question as far as I am concerned. How will T. H. Kerry handle this. She does have 57 varieties to choose from.

Posted by: tomh at December 2, 2006 10:42 PM
Comment #209982

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Posted by: School of Pharmacy at February 28, 2007 7:02 PM
Comment #214175

How to choose tablets for downturn of a blood pressure. Whether they are dangerous? How to coordinate their reception? Whether it is possible to accept often? WBR LeoP

Posted by: Health Pharmacy at March 28, 2007 3:59 PM
Comment #224571

Dear Linda,

Over recent months I had the same symptoms as yourself and yes, I had recently been infected with Toxoplasmosis, {diagnosed by blood tests} as the antibodies were sky high. I had swollen lymph nodes (had a lymph node biopsy but no MRI - I wonder what may have been found), severe night sweats, fatigue, forgetfulness and a severe 4 week headache. Now recovered for 3 months I noticed the symptoms of a flu/virus coming on on two occasions but recovered overnight.

Your story has given me much to ponder.
I did alot of praying, did you?

Posted by: Leonie at July 1, 2007 11:14 PM
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