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More Than 50% Of Us Are Infected With This, Which Affects Our Brains

More Than 50% Of Us Are Infected With This, Which Affects Our Brains

Toxoplasmosis is an infection that not many people have heard of, but the CDC estimates that every year, around 60 million Americans get infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, one of the most common in the world. And according to a study published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, this disease can have an affect on the brain and slow down a person’s reaction times, putting them at a much higher risk of automobile accidents. And since, according to the researchers, this infection can occur in 20-60% of the population, this problem is good to be aware of, especially for those who spend time behind the wheel.

What is Toxoplasmosis?

According to the Mayo Clinic, toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection which happens when a human comes into contact with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. When this parasite gets into the body, it forms cysts in various parts of the body, including the muscles, heart and brain. In healthy people, the immune system can keep these parasites in check and many times, they do not get any symptoms or even realize that they have a problem. However, if a person’s immune system weakens, they can experience a variety of symptoms from the mild (flu-like symptoms like body aches, headaches, fevers and swollen lymph nodes) to the severe (seizures, lack of coordination and confusion).

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toxoplasma_lifecycle_bam1

    Most often people contract this infection through contact with cat feces (such as when cleaning out a litter box), eating undercooked or contaminated meat (especially pork, venison or lamb) or using utensils that have come into contact with it or consuming raw milk or products made from it. In short, it is not a difficult infection to acquire.

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    What The Study Found

    This study, published in the BMC Infectious Disease journal, noted that toxoplasmosis is a fairly frequent infection and that, because many people do not have symptoms from it, they are not aware that there is a problem. Since one of the symptoms of this infection is a delayed reaction time, people who have this condition are more at risk for automobile accidents. In order to look at this relationship – and factors that can mitigate it– the scientists looked at male patients in the Central Military Hospital in Prague for three years in a row, testing them for toxoplasmosis as well as for the presence of a particular protein called RhD. This material was then compared with records of automobile accidents to look for a relationship.

    Toxoplasma_gondii_tissue_cyst_in_mouse_brain
      Toxoplasma gondii tissue cyst in mouse brain

      What they found at the end of the study was that patients with toxoplasmosis (who did not have the RhD protein) had a rate of traffic accidents of 16.7%. That is six times the rate of patients without toxoplasmosis or who had the protein, which appears to have a protective effect against the neurological problems that come from this infection.

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      With such high rates of infection, this seems like bad news for drivers across the country. However, the good news is that, once diagnosed, patients with toxoplasmosis can be treated with a combination of sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine. There are also a variety of ways that patients can prevent this infection from happening to the begin with.

      How To Prevent Toxoplasmosis

      According to the Mayo Clinic, there are plenty of ways to prevent contracting this infection to begin with. These include:

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      • Keeping cats healthy and wearing gloves when cleaning out the litter box or getting someone else to clean it if you have a weak immune system
      • Not eating meat that is undercooked, especially lamb, pork or venison
      • Washing utensils/surfaces in the kitchen thoroughly, especially when they have been in contact with raw meat
      • Not drinking raw milk or consuming products made from raw milk (this can also be a source of toxoplasmosis)
      • Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them

      So, overall there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that toxoplasmosis infection can infect 20-60% of the population at any given time — and since this infection can slow down a person’s reaction time, this puts toxoplasmosis patients (and other drivers on the road) at a greater risk for accidents. The good news, however, is that this infection is easily treatable with drugs and can also be prevented with simple precautions and lifestyle changes.

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      Brian Wu

      Health Writer, Author

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      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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