Beware! Your cat may infect you with this disease that turns your immune cells into ‘zombies’

If you are reading this, there is every possibility that you may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite as most people on earth are. The effective bodily infection and progression of this microscopic parasite to the brain have been made clear by a recent study. Immune cells become parasitized after infection.

At least 30% of people on earth are thought to be parasite carriers, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to studies, the parasite is present in 15–25% of the Swedish population (the vast majority without knowing it). Numerous other European nations have a greater incidence of the condition.

The diverse functions of immune cells in the body are extremely rigorously controlled in order to combat infections. How Toxoplasma infects so many people and animal species and spreads so quickly have long been a mystery to scientists.

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According to the study, the parasite injects the protein into the immune cell’s nucleus, changing the cell’s identity. Immune cells are deceived by the parasite into believing they are a different kind of cell. The immune cell’s activity and gene expression are altered as a result. Toxoplasma causes infected cells that ordinarily shouldn’t move across the body to do so swiftly, which allows the parasite to migrate to many organs.

It has been suggested that Toxoplasma causes immune cells to behave like wandering “zombies” or Trojan horses that disseminated the parasite. The recently released study offers a biological explanation for the phenomena and demonstrates how much more specifically focused the parasite’s proliferation is than previously believed.

How does Toxoplasma spread?

The most likely hosts of Toxoplasma gondii are cats who hunt or consume raw meat. Food and touching cats are two ways that toxoplasma is disseminated. In the natural world, the parasite preferentially travels from rodents to cats to rodents and so forth. The parasites are “sleeping” in the brain of the rodent, and when the cat consumes the mouse, they grow in the cat’s intestine and pass through the cat’s excrement. When the parasite gets into the foliage, the rodent eats it and gets sick. Humans can contract the disease through eating meat or by coming into touch with cat waste.

Toxoplasmosis symptoms

The majority of healthy individuals who have toxoplasmosis, which is brought on by Toxoplasma, don’t exhibit any symptoms and are unaware that they are infected. However, some people experience flu-like symptoms, such as body aches, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fever and exhaustion.

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Lung issues that resemble tuberculosis or Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia, a frequent opportunistic infection that affects persons with AIDS, may occur in people with a weakened immune system.

Miscarriage, or stillbirth, is a frequent consequence of early infections. Infants who survive are most likely to have severe birth defects, such as an enlarged liver and spleen, convulsions, acute eye infections and jaundice.

(With ANI inputs)

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