February 11, 2012
Crazy Is

Another year, another attempt to link your cat exposing you to toxoplasmosis with giving you schizophrenia. Ellen's been a veterinary technician for about eighteen years now, ten of them in a cat-only hospital. She handles more cats in a day than you or I will in probably ten years, or more. She still tests negative for exposure to "toxo." Fuller Torrey has been trying to link mental illness with toxo exposure for as long as I've known about him (nearly twenty years), and has failed to find anything convincing.

In other words, your cats may in fact be making you nuts, but it's not due to some scary-secret bug you've caught from them.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at February 11, 2012 04:24 PM

eMail this entry!

I've had cats most of my life. My kids & wife of 26 years have caused more grey hairs and mental health issues than my pets and I'm not getting rid of them either.

Posted by: Sparkey on February 11, 2012 05:12 PM

Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Empty the litter box.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.
Cats do not control you.

Posted by: NotACat on February 11, 2012 05:16 PM

Sccoop the litter at least once daily and wash your hands with a good anti-bacterial soap afterwards. We also spray the scooper with a disinfect spray after scooping.

Change the litter weekly, if not more often, and use a bit of bleach in warm water to soak the litter box while it's empty.

Just use some common sense hygiene.

Posted by: Old Radio Cat on February 11, 2012 05:28 PM

The research doesn't suggest that cats make you sick, it's that toxoplasmosis gondii, which can be carried by cats, can make you sick or alter your behavior. The disease can also be spread by other means.

Between 10 and 20 percent of people in the U.S. (more in other cultures) carry the disease. Indoor cats almost never carry it. Infected cats transmit the disease through their feces for a matter of only a few weeks after they are infected.

Posted by: Bruce on February 11, 2012 05:32 PM

Anecdotal evidence amounts to very little. Anecdotal evidence that doesn't even address the question at hand, even less.

As presented in the Atlantic article, the theory isn't that cat exposure leads to schizophrenia. Nor is it even that cat exposure leads to toxo infection.

The theory is that toxo infection, however it happens (and people do get infected, even if you have not) may cause behavior changes in humans, and may cause or facilitate the development of schizophrenia.

The fact that you have handled lots of cats and remain uninfected has just about nothing to do with any of the theories presented in the Atlantic article.

Posted by: anon on February 11, 2012 05:50 PM

I think this explains why so many liberals are crazy: most of them are cat people.

People from India are worse than even obama however: they are infected with Mahatma gondii.

Posted by: werbaz neutron on February 11, 2012 07:04 PM

I'm with CRAZY IS on this one.: cats can make you nuts, but it's the cats... or maybe you...
"In other words, your cats may in fact be making you nuts, but it's not due to some scary-secret bug you've caught from them."

Bruce, that's interesting data there - "Indoor cats almost never carry it"...? Have you a cite for that one? (I might want to use it.)

anon - you do have a point. But, I think it would also be interesting to investigate who/why gets infected? (see Bruce's comment)

Posted by: Kathy Kinsley on February 11, 2012 07:25 PM

As the article explains: "Humans, on the other hand, are exposed not only by coming into contact with litter boxes, but also, he found, by drinking water contaminated with cat feces, eating unwashed vegetables, or, especially in Europe, by consuming raw or undercooked meat." That doesn't mean everyone that handles cats, or even comes in contact with cat feces, gets it.

Indoor cats don't tend to have it because they don't eat rodents who carry it, or dig in soil that carries it.

Posted by: anon on February 11, 2012 07:55 PM

could it be that people who work around cats develop an immunity, sort of a vax effect? I have a vet friend who says that she's never known a vet or vet tech who developped toxo while pregnant.

Posted by: ruthie on February 11, 2012 09:50 PM

Ok peeps. For all of those of you who have questions please see the link from the CDC.


IN NO WAY does AMCGLTD want you to get rid of your cats, prepare for the toxoplasmosis Zombie Apocalypse or what not. We simply supplied you with a story and a link.

Posted by: Ellen on February 11, 2012 10:17 PM

Hey, maybe you just needs to give cats a pass. After all, to a dog, you're family, to a cat, you're staff.

Posted by: Bill Johnson on February 11, 2012 10:32 PM

I'm guessing scott only read the headline and not the article.

Posted by: buzz on February 11, 2012 10:36 PM

Oh, I read the article. I've been reading that article on and off since 1996. Working for NAMI and being around Fuller Torrey will do that to you.

Posted by: Scott on February 11, 2012 10:43 PM

@werbaz neutron: you know you're going to Hell for that pun, don't you? :)

The article presented a plausible cause, until the researcher admitted he couldn't determine possible infection examining any given individual's personality. If the causality exists, one should be able to detect individual cases, as well as mass statistics.

Posted by: Casey on February 12, 2012 12:35 AM

@Kathy Kinsley, 07:25 PM

I'll point you to the March, 2012 Atlantic piece on Prof. Jaroslav Flegr and his research on Toxoplasma gondii. (I'd provide a link, but they trip the comment filter.)

"Indoor cats pose no threat, [Flegr] says, because they don’t carry the parasite. As for outdoor cats, they shed the parasite for only three weeks of their life, typically when they’re young and have just begun hunting. During that brief period, Flegr simply recommends taking care to keep kitchen counters and tables wiped clean."

@Scott, 10:43 PM

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. E. Fuller Torrey's theory about Toxoplasma gondii and schizophrenia appears to be vindicated, although there is still a lot more research to be done. (Besides, Torrey's a cat lover.)

Posted by: Bruce on February 12, 2012 12:38 AM

If psychiatric medicine is going to take this theory seriously... EVERY SINGLE schizophrenic would tested for the disease in the first place to start collecting data to make this a plausible cause for the disease.

Posted by: Ellen on February 12, 2012 05:21 PM
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