Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasma-gondii-660x380

Toxoplasma gondii,

by AJ Cann http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/26/mind-bending-parasite-permanently-quells-cat-fear-in-mice/

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/epi.html Toxoplasmosis is caused by a common protozoan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and is the leading cause of death attributed to food borne illness in the U.S. More than 60 million carry it but are asymptomatic. It is also on the of the CDC’s “Neglected Parasitic Infections,” and has been targeted for public health action.

Transmission:  food (undercooked contaminated meat, or knives, utensils, cutting boards, or other foods that had contact with contaminated meat), congenitally (mother to infant), and in blood transfusions, and organ transplants. Sexual transmission is theorized.  However, cats, the only known hosts, play an important role, by eating infected rodents, birds, or other small animals and shedding oocysts in their feces up to 3 weeks after infection. An infected cat contaminates the litter box and/or the soil or water if it goes outside. Transmission to humans occurs after accidental ingestion. In the human host, the parasites form tissue cysts in skeletal muscle, myocardium, brain, and eyes, and may remain for the life of the host, and can reactivate when the immune system is compromised.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16457490  There is evidence of coinfection of Toxoplasmosis with Lyme Disease. This particular patient was initially diagnosed with MS and had symptoms of clumsiness and weakness of the right extremities, and years later was also diagnosed with LD (borrelia). Toxoplasmosis is significant in people who are immuno-suppressed, and Lyme Disease will trigger a previous asymptomatic case.

http://chronic-lyme-disease-solutions.com/Toxoplasmosis.html  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/toxoplasmosis/basics/symptoms/con-20025859

Symptoms: body aches, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, headache, confusion, seizures, coordination problems, fever, lung problems, blurred vision, encephalitis, mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder. It has been linked with anti-social, aggressive, and jealous behavior in men, and promiscuity in women. Children born with it may develop hearing loss, mental disability, blindness, and even death.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/how-your-cat-is-making-you-crazy/308873/  Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky and British groups say that Toxoplasmosis in lab rats changes the wiring in their brains which can take away their fear response, drawing them to their number one predator — cats. Years ago Czech scientist, Jarosav Flegr, noticed reckless traits in his own behavior which included crossing the street in the middle of dense traffic and openly scorning the Communists who ruled his native Czechoslovakia. He accidentally discovered he had the parasite when he was asked to donate blood to test a diagnostic kit for Toxo. He discovered that the French have infection rates as high as 55%, due to their desire for steak prepared saignant, which literally means, “bleeding,” while Americans have a 10-20% infection rate. Neurobiologist Ajai Vyas found Toxo cysts in rat testicles and semen and that the protozoan then moves into the female womb, typically infecting 60% of pups, then heads to her brain to affect her behaviors eventually getting back to the cat. This leads to the possibility of sexual transmission in humans. The research also found that 75% of the females preferred the infected males. Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torry points out that schizophrenia rose in prevalence in the latter half of the 18th century just when people in London and Paris started keeping cats as pets. He believes that 75% of schizophrenia is associated with infections, with Toxo a significant portion.

Once a human becomes infected the parasite needs to get back into the cat, the only place where it sexually reproduces. Due to the impoverished Soviet economy, Flegr gave personality tests and computer-based tests to assess reaction times to infected and non infected Czech students. His findings were so strange he tested then civilian and military populations. He found: infected men wore rumpled old clothes, had fewer friends, and were more hesitant, while infected women wore expensive, designer brands, had more friends, and were extremely trusting – doing what they were told. Both had slower reaction times, less attentiveness, an abnormal fear response, and were two and a half more times more likely to be in traffic accidents. Two Turkish studies have replicated the traffic accident finding. He also also found that 12 of 44 schizophrenia patients had reduced gray matter, with the decrease occurring almost exclusively in those who tested positive for Toxoplasmosis.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295012.php?trendmd-shared=0  Medical News Today reported on a study claiming the parasite is responsible for around a fifth of schizophrenia cases. Now, new research by Johns Hopkins provides further evidence of this association after reviewing two previous studies which identified a link between cat ownership in childhood and development of schizophrenia and other mental disorders later in life and then  comparing them with the results of a 1982 National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) questionnaire.  The questionnaire revealed that around 50% of individuals who had a cat as a family pet during childhood were diagnosed with schizophrenia or other mental illnesses later in life, compared with 42% who did not have a cat during childhood. 

T. gondii may be the culprit. 

Researchers at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands conducted a meta-analysis of more than 50 studies that established a link between T. gondii and increased risk of schizophrenia.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247346.php   Women carrying IgG antibodies to Toxo when giving birth have a higher risk of self-harm or suicide later on, especially if antibody levels are high.

Diagnosis:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/toxoplasmosis/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20025859 Serology to check for antibodies to the parasite, although tissue cysts may be observed through stained biopsy. The CDC recommends all positive results be confirmed by a specialty lab for Toxoplasmosis. In some cases if testing is done too soon, there will be a false negative, and it would be wise to consider retesting later to give the body a chance to produce antibodies. A positive means you are actively infected or that you are asymptomatic. Congenital cases are found using molecular methods such as PCR or with an ultrasound scan that reveals hydrocephalus (fluid in the brain). A negative ultrasound does NOT rule out infection.

Please see your health practitioner for Treatment

Treatment: Healthy people keep the organism in check and do not require treatment; however, if you are also fighting MSIDS, you should consider this organism in your treatment picture.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/toxoplasmosis/basics/treatment/con-20025859
Pyrimethamine (Daraprim), a malarial drug is the typical drug of choice, which may prevent your ability to absorb the B vitamin, folate, necessitating supplementation. In conjunction, Sulfadiazine is used, with Clindamycin (Cleocin) as an alternative. Those with HIV/AIDS may need to take these medications for life or until the CD4 remains high for 3-6 months. Spiramycin, an experimental drug in the U.S., is used in Europe to reduce a baby’s risk of neurological problems and may be obtained from the FDA.

Similarly to borrelia, the causative agent of Lyme Disease, once the parasite is in brain cells; however, antibiotics cannot kill off the thick-walled cysts.

Prevention: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/toxoplasmosis/basics/prevention/con-20025859

*Wear gloves when you garden or handle soil and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterward.
*Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat.
*Wash kitchen utensils thoroughly. After preparing raw meat, wash cutting boards, knives and other utensils in hot, soapy water to prevent cross contamination of other foods. Wash your hands after handling raw meat.
*Wash all fruits and vegetables. Scrub fresh fruits and vegetables, especially if you plan to eat them raw. Remove peels when possible, but only after washing.
*Don’t drink unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk and other dairy products may contain toxoplasma parasites.
*Cover children’s sandboxes. If you have a sandbox, cover it when your children aren’t playing in it to keep cats from using it as a litter box.

If you’re pregnant or otherwise at risk of toxoplasmosis or its complications, take these steps to protect yourself:
*Help your cat stay healthy. Keep your cat indoors and feed it dry or canned cat food, not raw meat. Cats can become infected after eating infected prey or undercooked meat that contains the parasite.
*Avoid stray cats or kittens. Although all stray animals need good homes, it’s best to let someone else adopt them. Most cats don’t show signs of T. gondii infection, and although they can be tested for toxoplasmosis, it may take up to a month to get the results.
*Have someone else clean your cat’s litter box. If that’s not possible, wear gloves and a face mask to change the litter. Then wash your hands well. Change the litter daily so that excreted cysts don’t have time to become infectious.