Research suggests a cat parasite found in feline feces may lead to severe fits of anger in human beings once contracted. A new study this year that involved a few hundred adults revealed that sudden bouts of extreme rage, including road rage, might be caused by a rare brain infection brought about from an organism known as the toxoplasmosis parasite. A report via Scientific American News this Monday, March 28, 2016, delineates on some of the shocking details on this health and pet-related discovery.
Much like dogs, cats remains beloved pets to millions of Americans across the United States. Yet the bacteria from the feces of these feline friends can prove very harmful to humans, especially in the form of the toxoplasmosis parasite. One such health concern once exposed to the detrimental organism is a brain disorder and psychiatric disorder known as intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). Intermittent Explosive Disorder results in the affected individual suffering from bouts of intense rage and anger, which can be expressed through sudden cases of volatile road rage.
According to the study, those who suffer from this illness were found to also have an increased chance of being afflicted with this parasite versus those who never received such a diagnosis. In addition, the research underscores that the presence of this cat parasite—which may not yield many serious symptoms, or any symptoms at all—might lead to “long-term behavioral issues.” It is suspected that the dangerous protozoan organism is able to alter people’s brain chemistry over time.
Nonetheless, notes News Oxy in their report, cat owners do not need to fear their beloved pets. Researchers involved in the new study shared that only a correlation between intense anger and toxoplasmosis has been discovered. There is no direct evidence suggesting that the feces and brain dwelling parasite actually causes the rage itself, and that most people who engage in healthy pet care and practices with their cats should be fine.
Owners should take caution, however. The video above focuses on another popular pet, the dog, that can potentially spread bacteria from feces that is in turn spread to humans. One professor involved in the study noted that although a significant association between the cat parasite and Intermittent Explosive Disorder do exist, not all cases suggested so.
“Not everyone that tests positive for toxoplasmosis will have aggression issues,” shared Dr. Emil Coccaro, a chairman of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience professor at the University of Chicago. He did state that parasite infection may ultimately “raise the risk for aggressive behavior,” but more research needs to be obtained before any definitive conclusion is reached.
Another troubling fact is that a significant amount of the U.S. population has been exposed and infected to the parasite commonly found in cat feces. Although only 350 adults were included in the brain infection study, which was published by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, it is estimated that over 20 percent of people in our country have been exposed to the parasite. Currently, cats are the only animals in which researchers believe this particular parasite, toxoplasmosis, dwells. The eggs of the parasite are then released in the cats’ feces.
Humans may be infected once they touch the feces and do not wash their hands after cleaning a litter box from one of their pets or after touching a contaminated item. This parasite is not only found in cats, but certain undercooked meats as well. Researchers urge all pet owners, including cat owners, to wash their hands regularly after handling their pet, pet toys, or cleaning up after their furry family members. Like the old rule in the book says, good hygiene like washing one’s hands is a good way to keep you healthy.
More research is also being conducted into the role that Intermittent Explosive Disorder plays in ongoing bouts of rage in people’s daily lives. A recent case in which a very angry man unleashed a snake in a California restaurant has also turned heads recently. The man was charged with unlawful possession of an exotic animal, and the 13-foot python he brought into the dining establishment has since been contained and is being taken care of at a local shelter.