Here's where things get strange. While the link between toxoplasmosis and birth defects has long been recognized, scientists now suspect that T. gondii may cause schizophrenia too. That in itself represents a major change in thinking -- till recently the assumption, based on twin studies and the like, has been that schizophrenia is transmitted genetically. No way, scoffers say: schizophrenia is so profoundly disabling that sufferers tend not to reproduce. Germs are a likelier candidate. Studies typically have found T. gondii antibodies occurring in schizophrenics at twice the rate seen in control groups.
But get this. Forty-five percent of schizophrenics tested positive in one study for both T. gondii and LSD. To quote a recent paper: "These results support the hypothesis that T. gondii may cause schizophrenia and may do so by producing or triggering the production of an hallucinogenic chemical." [...] "Production of such a compound may have been favored by natural selection because an infected, hallucinating rodent would be more easily captured by a cat." In other words, schizophrenia in humans may be a side effect of T. gondii's attempt to set cats up with a steady supply of tripping mice, the better to ensure its own reproductive success.
I mentioned toxoplasmosa the other day, and now there's a Straight Dope about it! Plate. Shrimp. Plate-o-shrimp.
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