«Zombie parasite» cats makes people more entrepreneurial, scientists have found

CC0 / Daga_Roszkowska / Cat. Archival photo«Zombie parasite» cats makes people more entrepreneurial, scientists have foundCC0 / Daga_Roszkowska / Subscribe to the daily newsletter of the RIA Science

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Infection with Toxoplasma, a parasite of cats, makes people more enterprising and risk-prone. To such conclusion scientists, who published an article in the journal Royal Society Proceedings B.

«Many people often want to become entrepreneurs or to realize some bold idea, but don’t go to such steps for fear of failure. I think the infection with Toxoplasma dulls the fear, and therefore the carriers become more entrepreneurial than other people,» says Stephanie Johnson (Stefanie Johnson) from the University of Colorado at boulder (USA).

Toxoplasma gondii (Toxoplasma gondii) is an intracellular parasite, normally found in the intestine of domestic cats. Today, according to the American CDC, more than 60 million people in the US are infected with Toxoplasma. The prevalence of this pathogen among Pets and their owners forced scientists to draw attention to it in recent years.

It turned out that Toxoplasma gondii is able to change the behavior of the host, causing irreversible changes in the brain. They do mice and chimps «fearless» at the sight and smell of cats and leopards, and humans are prone to suicide and irrational behavior, and inexplicable fits of rage. In addition, the penetration of Toxoplasma in pregnant woman’s body can cause serious defects in fetus and lead to miscarriage.

Johnson and her colleagues found another interesting example of the impact of Toxoplasma on human behavior, which is quite difficult to call unambiguously harmful, by studying how the absence or presence of these parasites in the body affect the behavior of biology students and visitors of different business courses.

For this, the scientists collected samples of saliva from about a thousand volunteers and tried to find antibodies to Toxoplasma. Then they compared this data with how and where these students had been studying, and where they then worked.

Unexpectedly it turned out that most carriers of Toxoplasma prefer to learn from entrepreneurs and managers, and on the most «risky» specialties, while healthy people often become accountants, analysts and biologists.

On average, infected students are 1.4 times more likely to have enrolled in the business faculties and the business of the Department and 1.7 times more likely to choose those specialties that are directly related to risk and entrepreneurship, but not their service.

Moreover, as shown by similar tests among the visitors of conferences, business development, carriers of toxoplasmosis is approximately two times more likely to open their own companies or have expanded their scope of activities than healthy people.

Interestingly, similar trends were evident at the level of entire States — the more Toxoplasma gondii was widespread in the country, the more its inhabitants are trying to become entrepreneurs. All this, says Johnson, should make scientists and authorities to get serious about this infection, affecting about a quarter of the population.