Researchers develop model of toxoplasmosis evolution

phys.org | 7/10/2018 | Staff
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Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by the spread of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic alveolite with an interesting life cycle. It exists in three forms. First, oocysts are produced in cats and passed in **** or urine. The oocytes can then be transmitted to humans and other intermediate hosts, including house mice. Toxoplasma gondii then develops into tachyzoites, which rapidly multiply before localizing to muscle tissues and the central nervous system; at this point, they develop into cysts called bradyzoites. These can then be transmitted by consumption—for instance, when a domestic cat eats a mouse.

Though humans are a dead end for the parasite (because house cats do not typically eat humans), as much as half of the world's population carries it asymptomatically. Dangerous for pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, the latent form of the disease is also noted for its presumed effects on behavior. There is evidence linking T. gondii to the incidence of schizophrenia, OCD and bipolar disorder, and a possible correlation with the probability of traffic accidents.

Prevalence - Forms - T - Gondii - Activity

Because the prevalence of different forms of T. gondii is associated with human activity, it is likely that the spread and differentiation of strains occurred 11,000 to 4,000 years ago as humans established agriculture and agrarian societies. It is also notable that strains in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres differ, with less virulent strains predominating north of the equator.

An international group of public health researchers recently developed a model of T. gondii to link landscape ecology and parasite virulence. They've published their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which they conclude that virulence to house mice and the capability of overcoming strong infection are likely important factors affecting the genetic diversity of T. gondii.

Researchers - Conditions - South - America

The researchers write, "The extant conditions in tropical South America, where...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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