In an effort to squelch the rampant negativity in the world, Holy Taco is endeavoring to bring some positivity to your life. And to make it extra easy on you, we’re going to tackle some of the world’s more downbeat topics, the crappy things no one ever has an upside for. But never doubt, every cloud has a silver lining and even the sun shines on a dog’s ass sometimes. We should totally name this column that, or something very similar but a little more reader-friendly in case grandma Google’s us by accident.
To get the ball rolling, we’re jumping right into parasites because, ask anyone, parasites suck. That girl who kept scratching her crotch while you were grinding on the dance floor? Parasites. The reason grandpa always bounced in his recliner? Parasites. Aunt Martha’s inability to put on any weight? Parasites. But they’re not all palsy, dangerous weight loss and STDs. Let’s look on the bright side!
Reduce Immune Dysfunction
Your immune system is like a best friend who sometimes gives you an upper decker or bangs your mom. You’re still friends, but why the f*ck did that just happen? Can you go on now? You have to, but damn, things are different. Likewise, your immune system will be staving off mild STDs and cholera one day and the next day it may decide your insides are insidious invaders from beyond and send the white blood cells to do you in.
Every so often an overactive immune system kicks in and screws you in the most immune deficient way. You’ll end up with illnesses like MS, diabetes or arthritis amongst others, all because your immune system put on beer goggles and had no idea what it was doing.
Lucky for you filthy lice exist and their dirty, parasitic selves actually seem to have immune dampening qualities. What the hell does that mean? It means people and animals chronically exposed to lice have far fewer immune deficiency diseases because the lice suppress that immune response. Basically they tell your body to chill out because you’re all lousy with bugs so overreacting isn’t going to benefit anyone. The lice are happy because they suck your blood, you’re not happy because you’re itchy and gross, but long term you are happy because you didn’t get a difficult to manage disease as a result.
If you regularly handle cat poop, you’re probably balls deep in some toxoplasma gondii right now. What is toxoplasmosa gondii? It’s a little bugger that wants to be inside cats. Why? Who knows. But once it’s inside a cat, it lives its life and then has a little family of gross parasites in the cat’s crapper. Then the cat drops the family off at the pool and later on rats go around and play in it because rats think playing in poop makes some kind of sense. But it doesn’t, rats. Cut it out.
Nonetheless, crazy as a shithouse rat isn’t a saying for nothing, so the rats play with the cat crap and the toxoplasma gondii parasites will infect them. And this is where shit gets real.
Once infected with the parasite, it begins to grow in the rat or mouse. Problem is, it can’t get to its mature state in a rat, it needs to get back into a cat again and rats, as you may have heard, are traditionally not on speaking terms with cats. What’s a parasite to do? It gives the rats balls of steel.
Lab tests have shown that if you introduce the scent of a cat to a population of rats, those not infected with toxoplasma run for the hills. The ones that are infected high five each other and make jerk off motions. Probably. Whatever they do, they don’t have a fear reaction. The parasitic infection causes the fear response to vanish.
Humans can also get infected with toxoplasma gondii, it’s actually very dangerous for people with suppressed immune systems and pregnant women, but the general consensus is it doesn’t do any harm to the rest of us. And how could a parasite that makes rats unafraid of their major predator be dangerous to humans? It can’t be, it can only be awesome. Sky diving, sword swallowing, making out with CHUDs, this could strip all fear from you. Maybe.
You may not be aware of this, but if you live in a country where you need to chew your water and/or find it in a ditch then you probably don’t know what hayfever is. But it’s awesome that you’re on the internet. Good for you.
Anyway, some researchers who are paid to notice this sort of thing were curious about the lack of asthma and various allergies amongst populations of people who typically are home to parasitic worms. Turns out that our bodies developed the allergic response in part to get rid of worms – as we became a little more hygienic worms weren’t such an issue for most of us and for the rest, worms had to adapt. And that meant they had to learn how to shut off your body’s allergic response, which stops you from not only ejecting the worms, but reacting adversely to anything else.
A dude who looks like one of the cast members of the Full Monty but who is in fact a professor of sciency shit over in England actually went to Papua New Guinea and, being the scientific madman that he is, put a bunch of dirty worm larvae on a bandage, then wrapped it around his own arm until the little bastards burrowed their way inside him. The conclusion? That’s friggin’ disgusting. But also, it cured his allergies. And those of the rest of the research team who tried it.
Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how many worms keeps you safe from allergies but also safe from the adverse effects of the worms as well. Once all that’s worked out, presumably we can all head to the drug store and buy a pill that parasites us to a healthy, happy, allergy-free life. Except with hookworm. Oh well.
Have another idea that we need to shine a spotlight? Something that can’t possibly have a bright side? Lay it on us in the comments section and if it’s not too traumatic or panic-inducing we’ll put that dog’s ass right in the sun in a future article.