Beasts of the Earth . . .

Updated: Oct 17

#Parasites #Toxoplasma #Tgondii #BeastsOfTheEarth #AnnaPerdue

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Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Did you know the deadliest beasts are the tiniest beasts? They are called parasites.


Half of the world's human population is infected with parasites in the body—and the brain. Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite found in the guts of cats; it sheds eggs that are picked up by rats and other animals that are eaten by cats. Toxoplasma forms cysts in the bodies of the intermediate rat hosts, including in the brain.

Since cats don't want to eat dead, decaying prey, Toxoplasma takes the evolutionarily sound course of being a "good" parasite, leaving the rats perfectly healthy. Or are they? Oxford scientists discovered that the minds of the infected rats have been subtly altered.

In a series of experiments, they demonstrated that healthy rats will prudently avoid areas that have been doused with cat urine. In fact, when scientists test anti-anxiety drugs on rats, they use a whiff of cat urine to induce neurochemical panic. However, it turns out that Toxoplasma-ridden rats show no such reaction. In fact, some of the infected rats actually seek out the cat urine-marked areas again and again. The parasite alters the mind (and then the behavior) of the rat for its own benefit. If the parasite can alter rat behavior, does it have any effect on humans?

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey (Associate Director for Laboratory Research at the Stanley Medical Research Institute) noticed links between Toxoplasma and schizophrenia in human beings, approximately three billion of whom are infected with T. gondii:

Toxoplasma infection is associated with damage to astrocytes, glial cells which surround and support neurons. Schizophrenia is also associated with damage to astrocytes.

Pregnant women with high levels of antibodies to Toxoplasma are more likely to give birth to children who will develop schizophrenia.

Human cells raised in petri dishes, and infected with Toxoplasma, will respond to drugs like haloperidol; the growth of the parasite stops. Haloperidol is an antipsychotic, used to treat schizophrenia.

Dr. Torrey got together with the Oxford scientists, to see if anything could be done about those parasite-controlled rats that were driven to hang around cat urine-soaked corners (waiting for cats). According to a recent press release, haloperidol restores the rat's healthy fear of cat urine. In fact, antipsychotic drugs were as effective as pyrimethamine, a drug that specifically eliminates Toxoplasma.

Are parasites like Toxoplasma subtly altering human behavior? As it turns out, science fiction writers have been thinking about whether or not parasites could alter a human being's behavior, or even take control of a person.

In his 1951 novel The Puppet Masters, Robert Heinlein wrote about alien parasites the size of dinner plates that took control of the minds of their hosts, flooding their brains with neurochemicals.

Still not sure that parasites can manipulate the behavior of host organisms? Consider these other cases:

The lancet fluke Dicrocoelium dendriticum forces its ant host to attach to the tips of grass blades, the easier to be eaten. The fluke needs to get into the gut of a grazing animal to complete its life cycle.

The fluke Euhaplorchis californiensis causes fish to shimmy and jump so wading birds will grab them and eat them, for the same reason. Hairworms, which live inside grasshoppers, sabotage the grasshopper's central nervous system, forcing them to jump into pools of water, drowning themselves. Hairworms then swim away from their hapless hosts to continue their life cycle. [1]


Could microscopic parasites have the ability to take control of a human being? Scientists are starting to think so.

A third of the world's population may have a parasitic infection that scientists believe to have an impact on human behavior. This toxoplasma gondii parasite has long been considered to be an "asymptomatic" parasite in humans. But lab tests and a new report suggest that it may cause or intensify severe forms of schizophrenia, could have an impact on how human hormones are secreted in the brain, and may cause personality changes.

The CDC estimates that more than 60 million Americans carry the single-celled parasite. Most people get it from infected, undercooked meat or from cats. According to the agency, "of those who are infected, very few have symptoms because a healthy person's immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness." But scientists are starting to rethink that theory. [2]


Infection with the common parasite Toxoplasma gondii is associated with mild cognitive impairment in otherwise healthy individuals, new research suggests. Investigators reviewed and conducted a meta-analysis of 13 studies that encompassed more than 13,000 healthy adults and found a modest but significant association between T gondii sero-positivity and impaired performance on cognitive tests of processing speed, working memory, short-term verbal memory, and executive function. The average age of the persons in the studies was close to 50 years.

Findings show that T gondii could have a negative but small effect on cognition. The study was published online July 14 in JAMA Psychiatry. T gondii is an intracellular parasite that produces quiescent infection in approximately 30% of humans worldwide. The parasite that causes the infection not only settles in muscle and liver tissue but also can cross the blood-brain barrier and settle quiescently in brain tissue.

It can be spread through contact with cat feces or by consuming contaminated meat. Previous research has shown that neurocognitive changes associated with toxoplasmosis can occur in humans, and meta-analyses suggest an association with neuropsychiatric disorders. Some research has also tied T gondii infection to increased motor vehicle crashes and suicide attempts. There is a connection between T gondii and schizophrenia.

Some years ago, Mental health consequences of T gondii infection have “several interesting associations,” i.e., people with mental health disorders more often get infections.

Scientific investigators analyzed studies that examined specifically cognitive functioning in otherwise healthy individuals in relation to T gondii infection, “because reverse causation would be less likely in this population and a grasp of global impact would become clearer.” The researchers conducted a literature search of studies conducted through June 7, 2019, that analyzed cognitive function among healthy participants for whom data on T gondii seropositivity were available.

The studies were of “high quality,” and there was “little suggestion of publication bias was detected.” Although the extent of the associations was modest, the ubiquitous prevalence of the quiescent infection worldwide…suggests that the consequences for cognitive function of the population as a whole may be substantial, although it is difficult to quantify the global impact.

“We know the parasite forms cysts in the brain and can influence dopaminergic neuro-transmission, which, in turn, affects neuro-cognition. Alternatively, it is also possible that the immune response to the infection in the brain causes cognitive impairment. This remains an important question to explore further. A big plus is that the researchers assessed several cognitive domains, not just one.

Although the data showed “mild effects,” the findings could be important on a population level. Because 30% of the world’s population are sero-positive for T gondii, and a potentially large number of people are at risk for cognitive impairment.

If you look at the United States, perhaps 10% to 15% of people might test positive [for T gondii], but in Germany and France, the number comes closer to 50%, and in other places in the world — especially countries that struggle economically — the rates are even higher. So, if it can affect cognition, even a small effect is a big deal. [3]

Of course, the scientists are already trying to scramble to get another venom concoction ready to combat this parasite. Is this T gondii parasite yet another lab created disease to instill more fear in the population to race for yet another poke in the arm? Is the T gondii parasite just the ticket these mad scientists are looking for to conjure up some good fear to get folks racing up to their corner drug store? I ask these questions all the time.