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Your cat may actually be making you crazy! on.
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Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii.[1] The parasite infects most genera of warm-blooded animals, including humans, but the primary host is the felid (cat) family. Animals are infected by eating infected meat, by ingestion of feces of a cat that has itself recently been infected, or by transmission from mother to fetus. Cats are the primary source of infection to human hosts, although contact with raw meat, especially pork, is a more significant source of human infections in some countries. Fecal contamination of hands is a significant risk factor.[2]

Over half of the world's human population is estimated to carry a Toxoplasma infection.[3][4] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that overall seroprevalence in the United States as determined with specimens collected by the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2004 was found to be 10.8%, with seroprevalence among women of childbearing age (15 to 44 years) 11%.[5]

During the first few weeks post-exposure, the infection typically causes a mild flu-like illness or no illness. Thereafter, the parasite rarely causes any symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. However, those with a weakened immune system, such as AIDS patients or pregnant women, may become seriously ill, and it can occasionally be fatal. The parasite can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and neurologic diseases, and can affect the heart, liver, inner ears, and eyes (chorioretinitis). Recent research has also linked toxoplasmosis with brain cancer.[6]Contents [hide]
1 Signs and symptoms
1.1 Acute toxoplasmosis
1.2 Latent toxoplasmosis
1.3 Cutaneous toxoplasmosis
1.4 Possible link to psychiatric disorders
2 Diagnosis
3 Transmission
3.1 Pregnancy precautions
4 Treatment
4.1 Acute
4.2 Latent
5 Biological modifications of the host
5.1 Behavioral changes
6 Epidemiology
6.1 In humans
6.2 In other animals
7 History
8 Society and culture
8.1 Notable people
8.2 Literature and film
9 See also
10 References
11 External links

Signs and symptoms

Infection has two stages:
Acute toxoplasmosis

During acute toxoplasmosis, symptoms are often influenza-like: swollen lymph nodes, or muscle aches and pains that last for a month or more. Rarely, a patient with a fully functioning immune system may develop eye damage from toxoplasmosis. Young children and immunocompromised patients, such as those with HIV/AIDS, those taking certain types of chemotherapy, or those who have recently received an organ transplant, may develop severe toxoplasmosis. This can cause damage to the brain (encephalitis) or the eyes (necrotizing retinochoroiditis). Infants infected via placental transmission may be born with either of these problems, or with nasal malformations, although these complications are rare in newborns.

Swollen lymph nodes are commonly found in the neck or under the chin, followed by the axillae (armpits) and the groin. Swelling may occur at different times after the initial infection, persist, and/or recur for various times independently of antiparasitic treatment.[7] It is usually found at single sites in adults, but in children multiple sites may be more common. Enlarged lymph nodes will resolve within one to two months in 60% of patients. However, a quarter of patients take 24 months to return to normal and 8% take 46 months. A substantial number of patients (6%) do not return to normal until much later.[8]
Latent toxoplasmosis

It is easy for a host to become infected with Toxoplasma gondii and develop toxoplasmosis without knowing it. In most immunocompetent patients, the infection enters a latent phase, during which only bradyzoites are present, forming cysts in nervous and muscle tissue. Most infants who are infected while in the womb have no symptoms at birth but may develop symptoms later in life.[9]
Cutaneous toxoplasmosis

While rare, skin lesions may occur in the acquired form of the disease, including roseola and erythema multiforme-like eruptions, prurigo-like nodules, urticaria, and maculopapular lesions. Newborns may have punctate macules, ecchymoses, or "blueberry muffin" lesions. Diagnosis of cutaneous toxoplasmosis is based on the tachyzoite form of T. gondii being found in the epidermis. It is found in all levels of the epidermis, is about 6 μm by 2 μm , bow-shaped, the nucleus being one-third of its size. It can be identified by electron microscopy or by Giemsa staining tissue where the cytoplasm shows blue, the nucleus red.[10]
Possible link to psychiatric disorders

Studies have been conducted that show the toxoplasmosis parasite may affect behavior and may present as or be a causative or contributory factor in various psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.[11][12][13] In 11 of 19 scientific studies, T. gondii antibody levels were found to be significantly higher in individuals affected by first-incidence schizophrenia than in unaffected persons. Individuals with schizophrenia are also more likely to report a clinical history of toxoplasmosis than those in the general population.[14] Recent work at the University of Leeds has found that the parasite produces an enzyme with tyrosine hydroxylase and phenylalanine hydroxylase activity. This enzyme may contribute to the behavioral changes observed in toxoplasmosis by altering the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in mood, sociability, attention, motivation and sleep patterns. Schizophrenia has long been linked to dopamine dysregulation.[15]
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