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The consequences of parasitic infection for the behavior of the mammalian host

, : The consequences of parasitic infection for the behavior of the mammalian host. Environmental Health Perspectives 73: 247-250

As many as one billion people may be infected with animal parasites. The behavioral consequences of such infection, or of illness in general, is poorly understood. This issue is discussed using as an example infection of mice with Toxocara canis, the common roundworm of dogs. Current literature suggests that two-thirds of all dogs have been infected with this parasite, and 7% of all humans have antibodies to T. canis. T. canis completes its life cycle in dogs, but when it infects aberrant mammalian hosts (e.g., humans or mice), larvae migrate through various organ systems including the brain, where they can remain viable and mobile for extended periods of time. Changes in motor activity, sensory reactivity, and learning of mice infected with T. canis have been observed. The pattern of behavioral changes is influenced by the infection regime and exposure to other toxicants such as lead.


PMID: 3665867

DOI: 10.2307/3430616

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