In the first stage of infection, known as the haemolymphatic stage, the parasites live in the host’s blood and lymph nodes, where they grow from nondescript little ovals into long squirmy splotches equipped with whip-like flagellae.alter the structure and function of their hosts’ brain cells (the parasites seem have a particular penchant for the hypothalamus, which helps regulate our mood and sleep/wake cycles) and the hosts start to feel and behave strangely.If the infection goes untreated, rabies patients fall deeper into confusion and hallucination, lashing out at imagined threats and hapless bystanders.They lose their ability to sleep, sweat profusely, and finally fall into a paralyzed stupor as their brain function slips into chaos.In the altered states brought on by a rabies infection, animals often lash out at any nearby living thing, but this may be more out of fear than anger.
’s life begins in cat feces, where its eggs (known as “oocytes” or “egg cells”) wait to be picked up by carriers like rats.
When a cyst comes into contact with an inviting host, it sprouts tentacle-like pseudopods and turns into a form known as a trophozoite.
Once it’s transformed, the trophozoite heads straight for the host’s central nervous system, following nerve fibers inward in search of the brain. As the amoeba divides, multiplies and moves inward, devouring brain cells as it goes, its hosts can go from uncomfortable to incoherent to unconscious in a matter of hours.
We’ve all been warned to stay clear of wild cats and dogs, and never to bother animals we find wandering the streets of a city.
Friendly as they might look, they could easily be carrying the deadly rabies virus, which doesn’t always cause the telltale mouth-foaming — though it does alter its victims’ brain functions in profound ways.
If that all seems a little far from home, though, consider this: Researchers estimate that more than 60 million people in the U. alone currently carry , and most of those have no idea, because the parasite often causes no symptoms at all. If you’re hiking in the wilderness, stay away from warm, stagnant bodies of fresh water, no matter how thirsty you are.