Earlier this year, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggested a link between infection with Toxoplasma Gondii, a parasite commonly carried by cats, and schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder affecting over 2 million Americans and is characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that about 20% of the U.S. population have antibodies to T. gondii indicating that they have had exposure to the parasite either from eating undercooked pork, beef or from exposure to cat feces.
According to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s center and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, people exposed to the parasite had a 24% higher risk of developing schizophrenia.
Researches hope that this association can help give insight into the disease – both the diagnosis of and treatment of schizophrenia. There are many unanswered questions at this time.
What can you do? Wash your hands when gardening or after cleaning the litter box or having exposure to cat feces. Keep pork and beef that is adequately cooked.
For more information on diseases you can catch from your cat – go to Diseases You Can Catch From Your Cat. This is not an article to frighten you but to make you aware of the possibilities. The biggest thing you can do is to ensure that you maintain good hygiene – that is wash your hands well and teach others in your home (especially kids) to do the same.