A parasite that can complete a full reproductive cycle only in the intestinal tract of cats has been found to create suicidal tendencies in humans, scientists recently discovered.
According to a study published this week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Toxoplasma gondii can be transmitted to humans through cat feces but it can also be picked up through the ingestion of unwashed vegetables and eating undercooked, infested meat.
Knives used to cut meat infested with T gondii cysts or drinking water from a contaminated source can also spread parasite, the article stated.
The article states that "The ingestion of the parasite by various intermediate hosts, including humans, leads to the spread of the organism from the intestine to organs, predominantly muscles and the brain.
"There, under pressure from the immune system, the parasite hides within neurons and glial cells, in cystic structures, with minimal exposure to mediators of the immune system that succeed to contain but cannot eradicate it."
A study using the medical records of Danish women found a significant correlation between T gondii and suicide in women, the article states.
To read more about the study, please click here.