The Link between Rare Steak & Road Rage

The Link between Rare Steak & Road Rage

There is a parasitic bug called toxopasma gondii, found primarily in raw meat, that may be the reason you flipped off that guy on the freeway the other day.

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The bug is really only “active” for a few weeks after contracting it. Though it does give you some flu-like symptoms, they are subtle enough that many people never even realize they’re sick. After a few weeks, the bug goes into a long-term dormant stage.

There is mounting evidence that in this dormant stage people’s behavior can be altered due to a change in the chemistry of their brains that leads them to be aggressive, reckless, and impulsive.

A study of nearly 4,000 military drivers in 2009 found that those with latent infections are up to six times more likely to have been involved in a crash. There have been countless studies between 1959 and today that seem to corroborate this conclusion.

But…wouldn’t putting a host into impulsive rages be a bad thing for the bug? Well,  toxopasma gondii can live in any warm-blooded animal but, for whatever reason, can only reproduce in cats. Thus, the bug may want a chance to kill us and escape and find a cat to reproduce in, thus keeping their linage alive.

Currently, there is no medicine to treat the effect this bug has on peoples’ brains but there is a strong push by professors of neuroscience to develop them.

The above image is from Flickr User Taryn and is licensed under Creative Commons.

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