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Toxoplasma gondii?


    What is Toxoplasma gondii??
    Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan that infects over half the human population in many nations around the world. The organism is carried in tissues that include the brain. Although it has no apparent effect in most cases, it is a concern because it poses serious health risks to unborn children and a small percentage of people.

    This protozoan connects many topics in earth, ocean and environmental sciences because of the way it transmits from one organism to another. In the home, parasites carried by the feces of domestic cats can be transmitted to humans and pregnant women are warned not to clean cat litter boxes. Stormwater that runs over pet feces carries this organism into waterways such as streams, lakes and the ocean. It is suspected that sea otter deaths can be caused by this parasite.

    Research suggests that domestic cats benefit from this parasite by making rodent prey easier to catch. Infected rodents become less fearful of cats. Thus, this parasite affects not only the physiology of the host, but its behavior. Scientists are investigating the effect of such parasites on human behavior.

    This makes it a engaging and multifaceted topic to enhance discussions of marine ecology and current concerns over stormwater management.

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