One year, in 2011, before the study in Denmark, another experiment in the Stanford University about the T. gondii parasites was conducted. In the experiment laboratory rats were infected with T. gondii. Suddenly, the affected rats had lost their instinct of fear towards cats. However, their sexual arousal was increased. Previous researches show that T. gondii can affect multiple brain structures.
“The fact that a parasite can get into an organism, target its brain, stay there without killing the host and alter the circuitry of the brain – we’ve seen this in insects and fungi, but it’s the first time we’ve seen it in a mammalian host”, said Patrick House, co-author of the Stanford study.
This was the study that inspired the Maryland scientist Dr. Postolache to continue with the researches on the link between T. gondii and the changes to the brain that it makes, which can lead to suicide desires in women.
Postolache collaborated with Danish, German and Swedish researchers, using the Danish Cause of Death Register, which logs the causes of all deaths, including suicide. They analyzed the data of women who gave birth between 1992 and 1995. Those children were screened for T. gondii antibodies. The team then cross-checked the death registry to see if these mothers later committed suicide.
Postolache suspects that T. gondii disrupts the neurological pathways in those who are already with psychological problems and are predisposed to these neurological changes.
Even if the link is completely proven, the problem that remains is that there is no active antibiotic or treatment therapy against the T. gondii parasite.
Right now, the most effective weapon against the parasite is teaching people not to use a knife exposed to raw meat on cooked meat; to wash their hands regularly and to cook their food, meaning that rare cooked stake should be off the menu.