(Apologies if this uploads and its blurry 🙁 )

This is Pingpong. Pingpong was lucky enough to be exposed to the parasite Toxoplasma Gondii at a young age. It is a parasite meant to infect mice and turn off their instinctual reaction of fear when sensing cats, but has been known to infect humans and be mostly asymptomatic in early stages. According to the hygiene hypothesis, this early parasitic exposure could mean Pingpong’s body can avoid hyper-inflammatory illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, asthma, and allergies. However, latent infection with T. gondii can cause it to become a neurotropic pathogen, meaning Pingpong could face some serious changes in behavior and personality. These changes can include feelings of aggression, impulsivity/recklessness, and an unnatural suspicion of others.

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  1. With the ever increasing standards of hygiene within developed countries has come with the pitfall of increased immune reactions, causing autoimmune diseases as well as other side effects such as allergies. The lack of a distraction for the immune system allows the white blood cells within the body to become overactive and attack the healthy cells in the body. Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that would sufficiently distract the immune system, decreasing the risk of allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease. However, there are risks that are seen should this parasite find itself a human host, these side effects are: increased aggression, increases impulsivity, increased suicidal ideation, as well as personality shifts. Due to the fact that Toxoplasma gondii can reside in the brain, scientists hypothesize that these effects are a result of: increased levels of testosterone, shifts in dopamine metabolism, and changes in calcium signaling capabilities within the brain.

    Hailey Fontenot

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