Sunday, June 14, 2009

Toxoplasma (parasite) may cause humans to have automobile accidents

The parasite Toxoplasma spreads itself by infecting the brains of rodents, causing them to engage in reckless behavior and be eaten cats. The cats then pass the parasite along through their feces.

Humans can contract the parasite by eating undercooked meat from animals that have been in contact with cat feces. Infected people (with rhesus negative blood type) seem to suffer from slow reaction times.

From NewScientist magazine: Parasite may increase your odds of an auto accident
Jaroslav Flegr and colleagues at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, had previously discovered that toxo affected reaction times mostly in people whose blood type was rhesus negative. So they monitored 3890 military drivers for 18 months. Those who were Rh-negative and had toxo were 2.5 times as likely to have an accident as uninfected drivers who were Rh-negative, or any Rh-positive drivers.

Flegr says these results suggest that between 400,000 and a million of the world's annual road deaths might be due to toxo infection. He suggests regularly testing Rh-negative pilots, air traffic controllers and truck drivers for the infection.


Some interesting facts from Wikipedia:

The USA, at 11% infection rate seems to be one of the countries less-affected by Toxoplasmosis. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasmosis)

Other countries have much higher infection rates, one of the worst being France at 88%, with a world average of 30%.

As the worst-case example, the 15% of Rh- Frenchmen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_type) could account for 30% of French accidents.



What I find somewhat strange are all of the incomprehensible diagrams that you find when you do an image search for Toxoplasma. The only thing that seems absolutely clear in each drawing is that it's the cats fault. Could the parasite be infecting the brains of people who study it and make them do these crazy drawings?







A child's drawing???




I went ahead and created by own illustration which I believe is much more easy to understand.



Allan (The 3rd), who sent me the link to the NewScientist article commented: Rarely do you come accross something that has the potential to create an entirely new exculpatory criminal defense genre! And based on parasites! This is like the X-files.


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