|Purred: Sat Dec 26, '09 3:58am PST |
|I just thought of something. Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted to humans via contact with cat feces (although Wikipedia says that you're more likely to get it from eating meat). There is a theory (probably specious) that there is a link between toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia. A not insignificant percentage of people have been infected by toxoplasma and are not schizophrenic, but on the other hand,
"Toxoplasma's role in schizophrenia
The possibility that toxoplasmosis is one cause of schizophrenia has been studied by scientists since at least 1953. These studies had attracted little attention from U.S. researchers until they were publicized through the work of prominent psychiatrist and advocate E. Fuller Torrey. In 2003, Torrey published a review of this literature, reporting that almost all the studies had found that schizophrenics have elevated rates of Toxoplasma infection. A 2006 paper has even suggested that prevalence of toxoplasmosis has large-scale effects on national culture. These types of studies are suggestive but cannot confirm a causal relationship (because of the possibility, for example, that schizophrenia increases the likelihood of Toxoplasma infection rather than the other way around).
Acute Toxoplasma infection sometimes leads to psychotic symptoms not unlike schizophrenia.
Some anti-psychotic medications that are used to treat schizophrenia, such as haloperidol, also stop the growth of Toxoplasma in cell cultures.
Several studies have found significantly higher levels of Toxoplasma antibodies in schizophrenia patients compared to the general population.
Toxoplasma infection causes damage to astrocytes in the brain, and such damage is also seen in schizophrenia."
Hmm. Maybe there is some scientific basis to the concept of "crazy cat lady"?
On the other hand, what about "crazy cat man"? "Louis Wain was a prominent cat artist who later developed schizophrenia, which some believe was due to toxoplasmosis resulting from his prolonged exposure to cats." (Wiki.) If you compare his early, fairly realistic portrayals of cats (who are, however, usually engaged in some kind of human activity (playing poker, etc.) with his later works, done in a mental hospital, you will find that the later works become much less "realistic" and look like something someone would do on LSD (or catnip).
Check him out. His pictures are fascinating.
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