Almost every second German is infected with toxoplasmosis. The parasite settles in the brain and remains there for a lifetime. Researchers suggest that it affects our personality from there - without us even realizing it. Toxoplasmosis - behind this name is one of the most common parasitic infections in the world. Are also in Germany, informed the Robert Koch Institute, about fifty percent of the population infected with the protozoa. Unnoticed - the infection is usually more severe with no outward symptoms - enters the parasite in the human body, sets the brain and remains there for a lifetime. What he's doing there is unclear. Researchers suspect, however: It influences our character. Infection from cats, gardening and raw meat Toxoplasma gondii, the full name of the parasite can infect all warm-blooded animals. Mice or rats, but also birds take on the protozoa in their feed. If such a host organism is eaten by a cat, the parasite can reproduce: in their gut it lays its eggs, which are then excreted and - to be eaten by the next mouse - with a little luck. This completes the life cycle of Toxoplasma. Man as host really does not belong to it; for Toxoplasma he is a dead end because it can not reproduce in him. But through close contact with cats, but also by gardening and associated contact with cat feces can still be produced a contagion. Also, the consumption of raw meat is dangerous: pigs and cattle can also contact the excreted by the cat cysts in their feed. If the meat before eating or only insufficiently cooked, as with minced pork, steak tartare or bloody, the pathogen enters the human body. Therefore it is clear for vegetarians but still: even salads and vegetables can be contaminated with the cysts from cat feces. A cat deposits - preferably in loose garden soil - per day from about ten million infectious cysts, which remain infectious ready for months. The most critical time for a toxoplasmosis infection pregnancy is: Infected lead to the woman during or shortly before pregnancy with the parasite, it can cause considerable damage to the baby, such as birth defects or learning disabilities, and in some cases even to miscarriage. Even in people with immune deficiencies, such as AIDS patients, toxoplasmosis can have serious consequences. What makes the parasite in the brain? But what happens when an infection with Toxoplasma? The parasite in the human body can not reproduce, but still propagates in the form of so-called pseudocysts. These pseudocysts are such a clever disguise that the immune system does not recognize as foreign. The pathogen multiplies within the body's own cells, namely, before he then spreads throughout the body and eventually to the brain and the muscles sets. Worse, many researchers consider it unlikely that the parasite in our brain simply remains, without making itself felt. The Czech scientist Dr. Jaroslav Flegr therefore investigated in numerous studies, the different behaviors of infected and healthy people. His result: Infected people showed a significantly higher risk appetite, were prone to mood swings, and were also more aggressive. Men often come too late, were prone to aggression and jealousy so Flegr. Infected women would 'warm, tended to a more spontaneous lifestyle and had frequently changing partners. Overall, a reduced willingness to learn and less interest in higher education are found. A Danish study also suggests that by a toxoplasmosis infection increases the rate of suicide among women. The researchers studied more than 45,000 subjects and found that the likelihood of a suicide attempt in the infected up to fifty percent was. Also, there are several studies which describe a relationship between the development of schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis. Animals that were infected with toxoplasmosis reported also to significant changes in behavior. But the parasite, it just manages to affect our character, but has not yet been clarified. Currently, researchers are trying to determine if the personality changes are due solely to the parasite that may have other causes play a role or have passed similar plant before. In Germany, the Dresden University of Technology is working on a pilot study, the results are to be published later this year.
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