"So, naturalists observe, a flea has smaller fleas that on him prey; and these have smaller still to bite ’em; and so proceed ad infinitum."
- Jonathan Swift

January 10, 2010

January 9 - Toxoplasma gondii

Blame it on the cat. Or the raw meat. Exposure to either can result in infection with Toxoplasma gondii. Distant relatives of Plasmodium, the parasites that cause malaria, T. gondii often doesn't show many symptoms in its host. Immunocompromised patients and fetuses of pregnant women who become infected can be at high risk from more serious complications. Recently, data have shown that people infected with T. gondii show behavioral changes, too - with differences between sexes. Men with T. gondii are more aggressive, while women seem more intelligent! Another case of parasite manipulation?


  1. Australian researchers have also recently reported on how this parasite alters our sexual behaviors as well.

  2. Oooh, toxo, one of my favourites!

    And palintomy is a really cool form of cell division... love stained micrographs of that!

    I've blogged about some protist parasites, but mostly focus on the protist rather than the host. So it's really nice to get that other angle on things. I kinda forgot what metazoa look like by now...

    Keep this up! =D



  3. this is very interesting but it begs the question why don't doctor's screen for it so that you can be treated then?

  4. For most people, being infected with Toxoplasma is asymptomatic, so screening is usually only done for pregnant women or immunocompromised people. Treatments are not simple things and have many side effects. See this page from the Mayo Clinic for more info on treatments.