A mind-controlling parasite that changes the brains of rats and mice, so that they are attracted to cats and even their urine, makes them much more likely to be their lunch. The parasite, called Toxoplasma gondii, might make permanent changes in brain function as soon as it gets into the rodents' brains, according to NBC News Sept. 18.
The parasitic change makes the mice lose their innate fear of the smell of cat urine. It actually alters their fear reaction so that they love the smell of cat pee.
Are you hearing this cat litter manufacturers? Researchers still aren't sure how the mind-controlling parasite works genetically, but they claim that once infected, there's no doubt the mice react differently.
They just aren’t sure how yet. "The parasite is able to create this behavior change as early as three weeks after infection", says Wendy Ingram of U.C. Berkeley, who worked on the study.
Apparently it changes their brains, so that they lose their innate fear of the smell of cat urine. It so alters their fear patterns that they end up loving the smell of cat pee.
This in turn makes infected rodents much more likely to be caught by cats, which eat them and their mind-controlling parasites.
And it doesn’t just affect felines. People can become infected too. Pregnant women are advised to stay away from cat feces, not that sounds like a tall order.
Not common among humans, it can cause brain inflammation, called encephalitis, particularly among those with compromised immune systems such as pregnant women, children and the elderly.
Medical studies have linked toxoplasmosis to a variety of human mental disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disease and even obsessive compulsive disorder.