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Editor’s Note: Jose has compiled a lot of research regarding behavioral changes that can occur when someone is infected by a parasite or a virus. To truly comprehend this article entirely it is recommended that you visit the links he provides to build his case. This is a heavy read but I think you will find it interesting and it may help explain some of the strange things. This is not a post you can just read half of and get the whole picture. –SB
I have to make a disclaimer, before starting.
I’m not a doctor in medicine nor in any discipline, but I have training in root-cause problem resolution, and some other techniques usually applied in many disciplines, transversally through a quite wide spectrum of professions.
I´ve written a lot about different stuff in my online academic consulting job. Being a long time professional that is always seeking out more education, I have learned to identify bits of information and to establish links.
I don´t like to write about something without having good sources. It´s a fact there are plenty of different parasites that, one way or another (the mechanism they used to produce this, I will leave it to the scientists) have some degree of impact on the host’s behavior. This is what creeps me the most.
I will have to ask for some abstraction here and an open mind. This is a serious business. In the sources I am quoting, there are some people responding with comments like “What are they thinking?” or even “But this is gross! Why they do this??”
The short answer may be that they don’t realize what they are doing.
Or maybe they do realize what they are doing but can´t control themselves.
I don´t know for sure.
Maybe some scientists can explain these behaviors. I would love it if someone would read and then share this article with a scientist able to explain it.
If you want to see the long answer, I mean my personal theory (strictly personal) about the explanation for this behavior, please keep reading.
In nature, we can see sometimes odd behavior when a predator tries to catch prey. Fleeing away is the most common expected behavior for prey.
However, if such prey is in a determined cycle of their lives, they can sometimes turn around and face their predator.
There is a wide amount of examples. I just researched a few, after some seconds googling. It is surprising how evolved can such a tiny organism to become!
There is a specific case that makes a rat lose the fear of its natural all-ages predator: our beloved members of the feline species. (Yes I´m a big fan of cats).
The parasite called toxoplasma gondii makes the rat feel attracted to the cat urine. You may have heard of this parasite because it is also known as”Cat Scratch Fever”.
Imagine how powerful this effect of behavior manipulation can be. I´m astonished after having read all of the papers and research freely available online.
I understand, brain structure is incredibly most complex in human than in rats, but it´s still…disturbing that a parasite can alter such key instincts.
After learning what a person on drugs is able to do, there is an entire universe for biochemical manipulation of behavior. Sure, there will be gazillions of other different variables involved when dealing with humans, but if the theory of behavioral manipulation has been circulating, we have reasons to believe this model can be replicated.
And sure as heck, the “zombie ants” fungi is another example. And a very creepy one, in my opinion. Not because the affected animals are small means any species is safe from such…parasites.
There is even a section in the above article that details which processes have to be altered, presumably to leave the capability of the rodent to mate and breed unharmed.
If that´s not creepy…well, leave your ideas in the comments section, please.
The infected mice show no fear, nor anxiety, nor locomotion problems.
My take on this, that bug has millions of years evolving.
A feline maybe would prefer hunting prey that looks healthy, instead of one with erratic movements.
One must always think about this in the context of the natural world. Forget about city modern environment, where prey is more abundant and plentiful than you might think.
I have a theory, and that is the ultimate point of this article.
But first please allow me to provide more context, in order to keep consolidating the theoretical platform that works as the base for the entire theory.
Now check this out. In this link, one of the researchers mentions that behavioral change (mice losing fear to cat odors) remains for a long time after they have lost the possibility to detect the parasite in the brain of the subject being tested.
This is…serious, and I´m refraining myself here. This study suggest a change in brain structure/chemistry that is permanent.
A parasite can change the brain structure of a host.
Coming from a technical background, maybe I am too…negatively biased towards all of this. But anything able to change my brain structure raises a little concern, Darwin has not been that mean with me after all. Otherwise, maybe I wouldn´t be here.
But it doesn´t stop just there. As I mentioned, the degree of sophistication this parasite has achieved in the behavioral modification of its host is remarkable. According to this study:
But this is not the only example, no sir. Mother Nature has some other interesting (and even MORE CREEPY) cases…like the zombie ants, and even in the sea world, we can find this kind of model.
Short version, a fungus is ingested by the poor ant, lodging inside its head, makes them walk erratically, and climb a small plant up to 25 cm high, lock their jaws in a leave, just to have a merciful death, while stuck there.
The ant´s head explodes and new spores are released, flying to the ground just waiting to be ingested by other ants and keep the cycle going. And it seems this has been working for the last 48 million years.
Isn´t it amazing?
Things don´t stop there though. This fungus has a bunch of parasites of its own, which prey on it.
Jeez, this planet seems to be more hostile than what I was believing.
This study mentions something that gave me goosebumps. The parasite (for biologists as I´ve learned, a parasite is any organism capable of living on the expense of another one, be it a bacteria, fungi, virus, or a more complex organism) preying on ants seemingly chose this particular organism because of their success: ants have been, biologically speaking, incredibly successful: they populated the entire earth, and they now comprise one-half of all the planet’s insects.
Another interesting point for dissertation: rats and mice have a good degree of success on their own right…don’t they? And look at how they are used as a bridge to infest our furry pets, by the toxoplasma gondii.
The example we find in the sea world is another interesting and similar to the parasite already considered.
A crustacean (Gammarus Pulex) transmits a parasite, the P. Laevis, and this changes the color of the crustacean, and such process affects the feeding behavior of their final host, a fish. Another meaningful event is the infected fish present a high level of photophobia.
We can´t forget one of the most outstanding behavior-changing diseases: rabies. This generates the infected host to salivate (where the parasitic organism is more abundant, leading to its fast dispersion) and try to bite every other organism nearby, as we all know: aggression is increased exponentially until the host is finally deceased.
Mankind has been safe because of the slow development and the relatively long incubation period of rabies, and because of the immense worldwide campaign directed to eliminate it in the 20th century.
Even though, this disease is still a threat because of its ability to infect all types of mammals. Especially dogs, as we all know. But I´ve known of at least one case of a South American squirrel attacking to a person (however it was impossible to know if it was rabid or just in their mating season).
Do you know what is highly concerning, when you dedicate the time to analyzing behavior changes and viruses?
Viruses like rabies are a small package of very little information. Only five genes; dogs are much more complex organisms and with some degree of discerning, memory, and intelligence.
Yet, this virus can re-wire their brains to become the most loving and cute pet into a virus-spreading machine, no matter how little a package it is.
The more extensive the research, the most abundant we find this model in nature. Just see the example of the baboons (Hausfater & Watson, 1976).
The socially dominant individuals happened to have a higher count of nematode eggs in their organisms.
I feel the need to mention this. Ants are organisms that I personally don´t consider to be complicated, nor complex. They do have their particular biology, but they managed through the ages to become a dominant species on Earth. (Just like us)
Rodents are considerably much more complex, without any doubt than ants and fish. And yet, they are prone to be controlled by their parasite.
Like a remote control, a switch or something similar. Being a mammal, with a supposedly much more efficient immune system than that of simple ants.
Let´s describe now what you will find in the following links before you go through them. You will see people coughing before someone else enters an elevator. You will see people spitting in the elevator buttons. We will see people spreading their saliva, totally intentionally, in the buttons.
Isn´t that hard to believe?
Well, these videos are public, no one seems to have found any explanation for such nasty, odd, gross and generally disgusting behavior.
This scientist registered an evident attitude change in the sociable behavior of the people exposed to a mild virus. A respiratory virus.
I believe we cannot discard the virus is trying to spread itself changing the hygienic behavior of the host. Check the videos.
Now I can explain why some of the people in my former YouTube video were defying the sanitary regulations!
Did the Chinese government already know about this? Very likely in my own personal opinion. What do you think?
If these videos are legit, then we face a much worse threat than previously thought.
One thing we can do is to isolate until the outbreak reverses or dissolves by itself. How in heaven are you going to NOT getting the freaking bug, if you find suddenly surrounded by 20 people coughing at you?
I´m not telling you this is “the absolute for sure reality”. I just found parallelism too important between several infectious diseases generated by parasites, and these anonymous videos called this to my attention.
If this is true or not, I´m not the professional with the expertise to clarify and confirm it. I just compiled some references and published my personal opinion for your dissertation and debate, and perhaps for you to be aware if you happen to find someone with this (seemingly) unexplainable behavior.
It is in Spanish, but it is part of the topic we´re dealing with in this article.
To summarize, I want to pose the following questions:
- Is there the slightest possibility this virus can effectively change the infected behavior, and spread itself this way?
- If this is true, additional measures have to be taken, personally speaking, to avoid being infected by someone else. How do we ultimately avoid this virus?
Hopefully, some with the needed medical and biological background will read this and will be able to answer those questions.
I don´t want even to think about what would happen if a bug is weaponized with these features. Suddenly, many weird stories start to seem not so weird, don´t you think?
I feel like I am in some kind of bad dream. Where I am at in life is challenging.
Being jobless, a foreigner thousands of km of the safest place I know, and with a little kid that relies on me. Living in one of the most populated cities, bigger than all of the other cities glued together I´ve been in my life.
This is a megacity like few others in South America. We live in one of the most populated districts. How is it possible to pass unharmed to the other side of this already declared pandemics, if this virus is able to spread itself by people doing gross things?
As far as I knew, Taiwan has shown a good rate of success containing the bug, but they are an exception.
Here, I have seen the sanitary authorities with a weak speech and showing on TV a person with ONE biohazard suit. Not a word about ICUs, nor how many respiratory aids can be provided at the same time. Masks?
Sold out. But not gloves. Sanitizer? Sold out, especially those aromatized. Jeez. Employees of major businesses like chain supermarkets, public transport drivers, none of them wearing gloves. I just don´t know. I may be wrong. I hope I am.
Do you know what is scary? Once Chavez died I had the certainty something was going to happen.
I didn´t know when, nor what. But I knew it. And it happened. 3 years later, and it is still happening. It has taken 4 years of my life, my career, and torn my family apart.
I feel something much worst now. The massive economic effect is there. It will hit like a tsunami, in the middle of the struggle with the bug in a few more months.
Those with a job should be very careful about using their hard-earned money. Those without a job, have degrees of freedom enough to become quite creative, like myself.
Our only hope in South America seems to be if this thing burns out before winter arrives down here, in one month from now, and having vitamins enough to strengthen our immune system.
But the country is still (unexplainably) receiving people from China and Europe. Peruvian economy depends on tourism, other than the mining, but this is something I can´t explain. There´s too much risk.
I have the strong suspicion the Chinese government was already aware of this, therefore they instated the quarantines and other measures.
If this happens to be a reality (and for our own good I really hope it is not because our safety margin is going to see itself incredibly reduced), the only possible action is isolation.
I mean total, complete, isolation, provided none of the group members are infected.
This is why city people looking for escaping the consequences of this infection, needs a place to be, totally protected, and stockpiled for 6 months to one year, minimum. Water, medicines, communication means, and of course food, or means to produce it.
Fuel, and whatever other supplies your group may need.
Thanks for your reading, fellows, and I look forward to your comments.
About the Author: Jose Martinez is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon