After reading an article about parasitic worms,you might be under the impression that they do nothing but infiltrate the body, steal nutrients, and reproduce. In fact, some types of parasitic organisms are forced to make daily efforts in order to remain in the body of the "owner" and continue their kind. To achieve their goals, the parasites can take control of the victim's nervous system and manipulate their mind - it may sound like something out of a horror movie, but such is the harsh reality. In the framework of this article, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with several parasites that have a frightening skill to control someone else's mind and body. Right now, our actions can be driven by a tiny parasite, and we don’t even know about it - we’ll talk about it at the end of the article.
- 1 Parasitic fungi that control insects
- 2 Parasitic viruses that affect the mind
- 3 Parasites that make fish smarter
- 4 Cat-borne parasites
Parasitic mushrooms that control insects
First, let's talk about parasiticгрибах, о которых вы уже наверняка знаете — кордицепсах. Вы могли слышать о них в видеоигре The Last of Us или читать в нашей давней статье про муравьев-зомби.
To date, science is aware ofthe existence of more than 400 species of cordyceps. Basically, they differ in that they choose different animals as victims. For example, cordyceps unilateralis (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis) infects only ants of the Camponotus leonardi species. When the spores of the fungus land on the body of an insect, they send threads into its nervous system and gradually take control of the body.
Influencing the neurons responsible for movementant, a parasitic fungus causes it to climb to the top of the nearest plant. After that, the victim dies and the fungus sprouts through his body. The emerging spores fall down to infect other individuals.
Entomophora fungus works in a similar way.fly (Entomophthora muscae). As the name suggests, this parasite preys on flies. Like cordyceps, the "fly fungus" puts threads into the nervous system of insects, makes them climb tall plants and continues to spread with the help of spores.
It just sounds terrible.The question arises: can cordyceps infect a person and take control of his mind? After all, if it is possible, we run the risk of being the heroes of The Last of Us in reality ... Fortunately, the human body is unsuitable for the germination of fungal spores, and we are not afraid of such parasites.
But some parasites can still live inside a person. Here they are.
Parasitic viruses affecting the mind
Viruses are also a kind of parasite. They penetrate living organisms, multiply inside the victim and use his body for reproduction. Some viruses can control the actions of insects.
A little higher, we mentioned fly entomophthora,that preys on flies. In 2018, it was found that this fungus itself has no desire to parasitize other organisms. This behavior is shown only by entomophthors that are infected with entomophthoviruses (Entomophthovirus). Initially, these viruses infected insects directly, but then, for an unknown reason, they decided to use intermediaries in the form of mushrooms. It turns out a kind of nesting doll: the virus infects the fungus, and it starts hunting for winged insects. This phenomenon is still poorly understood, so we recommend subscribing to our Telegram channel with news announcements - if something new becomes known, we will definitely tell you about it.
The most famous virus that can affectanimal and human behavior, it is Rabies lyssavirus. It is the causative agent of rabies, a deadly disease in which living organisms become aggressive and salivate. If you want to know more about rabies, read this article.
See also: The most rare and unusual diseases in the world
Parasites that make fish smarter
Nature decreed that fish do not shine with special ingenuity. If they were smart, it would be much more difficult to catch them with an ordinary fishing rod.
However, in sea trout of the species Salmo truttatrutta has the opportunity to become at least a little smarter. Sometimes parasitic worms Diplostomum pseudospathaceum settle in their eyes - observations have shown that after infection, fish begin to avoid the place where these parasites accumulate.
In 2016, Finnish scientists conducted a visualexperiment. For two weeks they placed the fish in an aquarium divided into two parts. In one part there were larvae of parasitic worms, and the other was clean. At first, the fish swam around the tank without any fear and accidentally became infected with parasites. After that, during the following dives, they already avoided the dangerous part of the aquarium.
You will be interested: Jumping fish that live on land - true or myth?
Parasites transmitted from cats
Finally, the most interesting.If a cat lives in your apartment, you are very likely to be infected with Toxoplasma gondii. It lives in the brain, but does not pose a danger to most people. Only people with HIV infection and pregnant women are at risk. In the first case, infection with Toxoplasma can cause death, and in the second, the risk of developing diseases in the unborn baby increases.
Infection with Toxoplasma does not have a sharply negative impact on human health. However, the cat-borne parasite can affect behavior.
In the course of scientific research, it was found that parasites can make people:
- easy to take risks;
- slow in terms of reaction;
- less inquisitive;
- more outspoken.
The most interesting thing is that those infected with toxoplasmosispeople begin to have a special love for cats. Even the smell of their urine begins to seem less disgusting to them than before - it is not surprising that in some families there are two or more representatives of the cat family. Perhaps it is Toxoplasma infection that explains the popularity of cats on the Internet - their photos are everywhere!
It turns out that right now the parasite cancontrol our minds and make us show love to cats. And we do not even notice this, considering our love for these creatures as something taken for granted.
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If you want to read more about toxoplasmosis and love for cats, welcome to the article by my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova - here is the link.