Par­a­site has odd ef­fects

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page -

A COMMON­par­a­site can in­crease a women’s at­trac­tive­ness to the op­po­site sex but also make men more stupid, an Aus­tralian re­searcher says.

About 40 per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is in­fected with Tox­o­plasma gondii, in­clud­ing about eight mil­lion Aus­tralians.

Hu­man in­fec­tion gen­er­ally oc­curs when peo­ple eat raw or un­der­cooked meat that has cysts con­tain­ing the par­a­site, or ac­ci­den­tally in­gest some of the par­a­site’s eggs ex­creted by an in­fected cat.

The par­a­site is known to be dan­ger­ous to preg­nant women as it can cause dis­abil­ity or abor­tion of the un­born child, and can also kill peo­ple whose im­mune sys­tems are weak­ened.

Syd­ney Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy’s Nicky Boul­ter said new re­search had re­vealed its mind-al­ter­ing prop­er­ties.

‘‘In short, it can make men be­have like al­ley cats and women be­have like sex kit­tens’’.

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