Mice infected with Toxoplasma gondii (a parasite found in cat feces that is especially dangerous to pregnant women) lose their fear of cats- researchers have known that for years. But new research suggests that the loss of fear of cats is a permanent behavioral change for these mice, even after the parasite is completely out of their systems.
It’s an amusing image that comes to mind- mice, unafraid of cats?
But on a serious note, this discovery has more important implications than the possibility of a dramatic reduction in the mouse population. By proving that there are permanent changes to the disposition of the mouse, even after the parasite infection is long gone, it raises the question as to whether or not this is an isolated phenomenon. If you go to the doctor and take a medication to rid yourself of an illness, even if you believe you are fully recovered, are there lingering effects that you might not know about?
Thanks to the mice for a heads-up… I think more research is warranted on this one!