PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Cats can be a source of happiness and love, but new research suggests they might also be responsible for unexpected outbursts of anger.

Researchers at the University of Chicago say a parasite, toxoplasma gondii, commonly spread from cats to people may play a role in impulse aggression.

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Toxoplasmosis is most commonly transmitted through the feces of infected cats and people can contract it by handling cat litter.

According to a CBS News report, nearly 30 percent of humans carry the parasite and more than 60 million people in the United States may have it.

Generally, it is relatively harmless. However, researchers have found a link between the parasite and Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED).

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According to the study, IED is defined as, “a disorder of recurrent, problematic, and impulsive aggressive behavior, compared with healthy controls.”

An example of such behavior is road rage.

“The researchers discovered that the individuals with IED were more than twice as likely to test positive for toxoplasmosis exposure compared to the control group,” CBS’ report said.

It is worth noting that the disease can also be found in undercooked meat or contaminated water.

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Lynne Hayes-Freeland