According to a new study, the mind-altering parasite Toxoplasma gondii can make infected persons more appealing on the surface. Several investigations have previously shown that the parasite in question may infect any animal or bird. Toxoplasma gondii is often regarded as the world’s most effective parasite.
Once infected, a person appears to carry Toxoplasma for the rest of their lives, and a number of studies suggest that it may affect human behaviour in some way.
The parasite is disseminated by coming into contact with infected cat faeces. It can also be transmitted by contaminated food or sexual contact with an infected individual.
In a new study, infected men and women were judged as being more attractive and healthy-looking than non-infected men and women.
The study concluded that some sexually transmitted parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii, may cause changes in the human host’s look and behavior.
It goes on to say that it’s either a by-product of the infection or a result of the parasite being manipulated to spread to other hosts.
According to Science Alert, scientists suggested that the phenomena could make sense from an “evolutionary biology approach.”
“In one study, Toxoplasma-infected male rats were viewed as more sexually appealing and were selected as sexual partners by non-infected females,” researchers said in a new publication led by the first author and biologist Javier Borráz-León of the University of Turku in Finland.
Lower degrees of asymmetry (i.e. more symmetry) have been associated with improved physical health, good genes, and attractiveness, among other things.
Furthermore, women infected with the parasite had lower body mass and BMI than non-infected women, as well as higher self-perceived attractiveness and a larger number of sexual partners.