10 surprising facts about the ‘mind-control’ parasite Toxoplasma gondii


A Toxoplasma gondii tissue cyst. (Image credit: CDC)

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Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled protozoan parasite that invades the cells of a variety of host organisms, including humans, and causes a disease known as toxoplasmosis. T. gondii is sometimes nicknamed the “mind-control parasite” because toxoplasmosis can cause a range of neurological and behavioural changes in infected animals, although most human infections have no clear symptoms.

The pathogen is one of the most common infectious parasites in the world and could lay dormant in up to half of the world’s population, as well as almost any warm-blooded animal species. But there is still much we don’t know about this extremely weird parasite.   


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