Cats and Mental Health

Honor Whiteman wrote about the findings in studies of a link of cats and mental health issues in adult life. The article talks about a couple of studies that found a parasite (T. gondii)  that vulnerable individuals (those with weak immune systems, e.g. pregnant women) can contract. The parasite comes from being in contact with the cat’s feces and not using proper hygiene.

cat

In November 2014, for example, Medical News Today reported on a study claiming the parasite is responsible for around a fifth of schizophrenia cases. Now, new research provides further evidence of this association.

For one study, Dr. Robert H. Yolken, of the Stanley Laboratory of Developmental Neurovirology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, and colleagues assessed the results of two previous studies.

These studies had identified a link between cat ownership in childhood and development of later-life schizophrenia and other mental disorders, comparing them with the results of a 1982 National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) questionnaire.

The team also identified a link between T. gondii infection and greater risk of bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction.

“These findings suggest that T. gondii infection is associated with several psychiatric disorders and that in schizophrenia, reactivation of latent T. gondii infection may occur,” note the authors of the studies.

Mr. Whiteman expands that “It is important to note that cat feces are not the only source of T. gondii infection. Humans can contract the parasite through consuming undercooked or contaminated meats and by drinking contaminated water.”

 

To read the full article go here
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/64800759@N06/7166985463″>Jackson</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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