Cats typically make us feel relaxed and happy, but there’s new research out that suggests a potential connection between a common cat parasite and angry outbursts.
University of Chicago researchers have focused on the parasite toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis in humans. The parasite can be transferred from cats to humans when handling cat litter. You can also contract the parasite by eating undercooked meat. Nearly 30% of the human population carries toxoplasma gondii, often with no effect. It’s largely considered harmless.
However, researchers have discovered a potential connection between toxoplasmosis and Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). IED is a psychiatric disorder in which affected humans often undergo impulsive aggressive outbursts which are physical or verbal in nature. These reactions are extreme when compared to the situations that prompted them.
During a study of 358 adults at the University of Chicago, it was determined that one-third of the group had IED. Another third had a psychiatric disorder different from IED, and the rest of the patients were determined to be healthy individuals and served as a control group. After testing the individuals, it was revealed that those people who had IED were more than twice as likely to also have toxoplasmosis than the people in the control group were.
Now that doesn’t mean that there’s need to panic. The link between toxoplasmosis and IED does not necessarily mean that toxoplasmosis causes IED. If it is, then treating the toxoplasmosis infection could solve the issue. There is still much research to be done to fully understand the connection and how to best treat it.