Sep 27, 2012

Cat owners at higher risk for suicide because of exposure to a certain parasite that's carried in cat feces.

The parasitic infection is called toxoplasmosis, and more than 60 million men and women in the US have it, according to the CDC.


Owning a cat can increase your risk for this infection because you can get it by handling cat feces, but lots of other stuff can also increase your risk, including eating or handling undercooked meat…accidentally ingesting contaminated soil, such as from not washing your hands after gardening…eating contaminated, unwashed fruits or vegetables…drinking contaminated water…or receiving an infected organ transplant. And pregnant women can pass the infection to their unborn children.

I had to find out how an infection could be linked to a self-inflicted act such as suicide.


The vast majority of infected people have no symptoms. But the parasite can cause brain and vision problems in those with weak immune systems, and it can be dangerous in fetuses—potentially causing mental disability, blindness or even death, which is why pregnant women are routinely advised to let someone else take over litter box duty.

But now two recent studies reveal a link with suicide.

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