A large Danish study suggests that common pathogens, including one found in cat feces, are associated with an increased risk of serious psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and attempted suicide. Among them are the cat poop parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis and is also found in contaminated meat, shellfish, and water; and cytomegalovirus (CMV), a lifelong infection that affects about half of all people by age 40, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study confirms earlier research linking infectious pathogens to psychiatric problems, risk-taking behaviors, and self-harm. It involved more than 11,500 people from the Danish Blood Donor Study who were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, had attempted or committed suicide, or were involved in traffic accidents, and a control group. According to the researchers, toxoplasmosis infection was associated with a higher-than-normal rate of schizophrenia and a slightly higher rate of traffic accidents.
CMV was associated with increased risk for:
- Psychiatric disorders
- Psychological problems (neurosis, stress disorders, sleep disorders)
- Mood disorders (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder)
Sourced from: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity