Cat parasite may lead to schizophrenia in millions of humans

(Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images)

MIAMI – If you're not a "cat person," this won't change your mind. If you are, you may want to look away.

Scientists say a parasite spread by cats and is currently carried by over two billion people in the world (60M in the US), may lead to schizophrenia.

The usually harmless T. gondii parasite is spread to humans through contact with cat litter trays and uncooked meat, the Daily Mail reports.

However, a new study claims the parasite raises the risk of schizophrenia by 50 percent.

Using data from more than 80,000 Danish blood donors, the scientists looked to find the presence of T. gondii. The parasite was found in a quarter of the donors, and 61 percent carried a similar parasite that "has also shown similar evidence of cognitive impairment."

The study found that patients that had been infected with T. gondii had a 50 percent more chance  of being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Scientists believe the parasite may be disrupting the action of an amino acid called tryptophan, which leads to the secretion of metabolites found in people with schizophrenia.