Cats and Their Brain-Controlling Parasites Are Targeting Your Children

Toxoplasma gondii, the brain parasite carried by cats, infects sandboxes, gardens, and the soil in play areas.

T. gondii is an extremely interesting parasite that  has been at least casually associated with some not-so-great things. A study  last year found that people with the parasite have slower reaction times and are  more likely to take risks than people without it. Other studies have casually correlated it with suicidal behavior, depression,  OCD, and even brain cancer. 

T. gondii is bad for you: According to the authors, the idea that T. gondii is "largely asymptomatic" in most of the population is a "notion [that] is now under reconsideration." Concerns include "schizophrenia, depression, suicidal behavior, rheumatoid arthritis, [and] brain cancer."

T. gondii is bad for your child: It's been reported before that toxoplasmosis can result in eye problems and other complications for young children. According to the authors, a new concern is "scholastic underachievement in children," which is bad because...

Cats are everywhere: Between 1989 and 2006, the authors note, the number of pet cats in the United States increased from 54.6 million to 81.7 million. Approximately two thirds of cats sleep with their owners. Remember, most T. gondii infections come from the unwitting ingestion of cat feces.

Which may occur when: a victim is "changing the litter box of a cat, gardening, playing in a sandbox, eating unwashed fruits or vegetables or drinking water containing oocysts."

Is that all? No. They also note that you can get toxoplasmosis from cockroaches and flies that have come into contact with cat feces and then have hung out with your food. Oh, and "T. gondii oocysts may even infect humans who pet dogs that have rolled in cat feces."

Toxoplasma oocysts are unkillable

"Because cats do not defecate  randomly but rather select places with loose soil so that they can cover their  feces gardens, children’s play areas with loose soil, and especially sandboxes  (also called sandpits and sand piles) are favored sites." 

And your kids eat sand: In another, mostly humorous study  done at a Massachusetts daycare center, kids "ingested a median of 40 mg of soil  per day." Except for one bright kid who "consumed 5-8 grams of soil per day on  average." Even without the whole eating sand thing, "oocysts are known to become  aerosolized when they dry out,it is also possible that a child playing in such a  sandbox could become infected simply by breathing in oocysts."

... a study done in Japan that calculated the number of T. gondii  oocysts in three separate sandboxes. One of them had 1.7 million per square  foot; it takes just one to infect a human.
[emphasis mine]

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The only drug for toxo just jumped from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill.

Company hikes price 5,000% for drug that fights complication of AID...

A drug treating a common parasite that attacks people with weakened immune systems increased in cost 5,000% to $750 per pill.

Turing Pharmaceuticals of New York raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill last month, shortly after purchasing the rights to the drug from Impax Laboratories. Turing has exclusive rights to market Daraprim (pyrimethamine), on the market since 1953.

Daraprim fights toxoplasmosis, the second most common food-borne disease, which can easily infect people whose immune systems have been weakened by AIDS, chemotherapy or even pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Even patients with insurance could have trouble affording the medication, she said. That's because insurance companies often put high-price drugs in the "specialty" category, requiring patients to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. Patients whose insurance plans require them to pay 20% of the cost — a common practice — would shell out $150 a pill.

About 60 million people in the United States may carry the Toxoplasma parasite, according to the CDC. It comes from eating under-cooked meat, cooking with contaminated knives and boards, drinking unclean water and contact with infected cat feces.

Mothers can also pass it to their children during pregnancy and organ transplant patients can get it through an infected donor. Symptoms can feel flu-like, but the parasite attacks the brain and can lead to blindness or brain damage.

McLeod heads research on toxoplasmosis in Chicago. She said up to 3 billion people in the world are infected with the parasite, which attacks the brain. [emphasis mine]

That should be illegal!

Hedge fund boss Martin Shkreli moved on from a messy split from his first startup, Retrophin, to found a new one called Turing Pharmaceuticals last year.

Shkreli Leads $90M Round for New Startup, Turing Pharma

The Short-Seller Who Started a Biotech Firm Gets Ousted by His Board

The question about Martin Shkreli, 31, was whether after making a name for himself betting on biotech stocks to fall, he had undergone a conversion or was using his knowledge to game the biotech field. [emphasis mine]

There you have it! A 31-year old hedge fund short-seller can kill thousands infected with toxo, for easy profit. Don't you just love unregulated capitalism!

Disgusting.... These boardrooms are the true "death panels"!

(And this not long after a dear member of our Atheist Nexus community, Elaine (Felaine, sk8eycat), died this summer of poverty and inadequate medical care. She had written about having to choose between food and medicine.)

WATCH: Ex-Hedge Funder Who Hiked AIDS Pill by 5,500% Says Drug ‘Sti...

Martin Shkreli, a 32-year-old venture capitalist, has been facing heavy criticism for his decision to hike the price of a pill that costs $1 to manufacture, to $750 per pill, overnight. In a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, Shkreli hinted that he may increase the price of the drug even more.

Daraprim has been on the market 62 years, the development cost has long been been repaid. If you or your kids get toxo, you'll have no choice but to pay Shkreli $750 for a $1 pill, or take your chances with blindness and brain damage.

We're all victimized by "the growing trend of rapid-fire acquisitions of life-saving drugs and immediate price gouging" on many medications.

Shkreli had said he'd reduce the price; now he's offering discounts but the extortionate list price for a 62-year-old drug stands. I'll repeat that the boardrooms of our unelected corporate government are the true "death panels".

$750/pill pharma company reverses decision to lower drug price (Ars Technica)

In an announcement on Tuesday, the company said that the list price of Daraprim, which jumped from $13.50 a pill to $750 a pill earlier this year, will not change. Instead, the company will offer hospitals up to 50 percent discounts and will make other adjustments to help patients afford Daraprim, a drug used to treat a parasitic infection and often given to HIV patients.

...

In an e-mail to The New York Times, Tim Horn, HIV project director for the AIDS research and policy organization Treatment Action Group, said: “This is, as the saying goes, nothing more than lipstick on a pig.”

Turing is currently under investigation by lawmakers over what some have referred to as price gouging.

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