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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

T'is the Season To Be Silly


When I had the Lifeboat I would endeavour to hunt out silly, uplifting and/or funny stories every so often and share them.

This one was sent to me from SSRI Crusaders.

I am not sure if it is supposed to be based on fact...I don't really care. I think it warrants airing and sharing:

Prozac may counter parasite mind control

00:01 17 December 2008 by Ewen Callaway
For similar stories, visit the Mental Health Topic Guide
Parasites getting you down? Then take Prozac – if you're a fish, that is.

A behaviour-altering parasitic worm has been found to stymie its host's production of serotonin – the same brain chemical that Prozac and other mood-lifting drugs ramp up.

While there are no plans to medicate infected fish in the wild, researchers hope to use psychiatric drugs to figure out how trematode worms alter the behaviour of California killifish, which live in coastal estuaries.

"There are whole populations where almost 100% of the fish are infected," says Jenny Shaw, a parasitologist at the University of California in Santa Barbara, who led the study.

Otherwise healthy infected killifish surface frequently, flashing their silver bellies. When infected, they are 30 times more likely to get eaten by birds than uninfected fish," she says.

Mind control
The parasite's effect on the fish's behaviour is no accident. When the birds defecate, they pass the worm's eggs on to water snails, which in turn spread the worm larvae back to the killifish, thus completing the peculiar lifecycle of Euhaplorchis californiensis.

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