Fact or fiction? To tell you the truth, I don’t have a clear answer – but the possibility is such flavourful fodder for the imagination that I had to speak to it here.
This is the story that’s feeding this feast: Common parasite could manipulate our behaviour, an article from Scientific American.
Studies mentioned in this article have concluded that the toxoplasmosis infection can alter rodent neurological pathways – and therefore behaviour – making cat odours invoke sexual attraction rather than fear. A rodent infected in this manner would be more likely to run towards a cat than away from one.
One phrase from this article that I will never forget is kiss-and-spit: when a mammal is infected, the parasite will attach itself to a cell (the kiss) and release foreign proteins into the cell (the spit). That’s not an image that is easily forgotten.
Whether this translates into human behaviour is still under study. It looks, however, like it’s very possible. I’m looking forward to further research results.