Half of the people in the world are infected with Toxoplasma…
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.
Well. Read the whole story. If nothing else it raises some interesting questions about mental health and mental illness. Perhaps, like ulcers, the proper treatment for this sort of disease is anti-biotics…
I’m off to find a copy of Heinlein’s book “The Puppet Masters”. I don’t think I’ve read it before.