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Parasite In Cat Poop May Make Humans More Business Savvy, Study Says

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS Local) - Cat owners know all about the dirty job of cleaning out their pet's litter box. A new study is claiming all that cat poop may actually be making some owners more business-savvy entrepreneurs.

An infection from the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in humans is being credited with an increased likelihood that a person will take up entrepreneurial and business-related activities, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder.

"As humans, we like to think that we are in control of our actions," study co-author Pieter Johnson said in a press release. "But emerging research shows that the microorganisms we encounter in our daily lives have the potential to influence their hosts in significant ways."

Scientists say Toxoplasma gondii reproduces in both wild and domestic cats and infects nearly two billion people worldwide. The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that patients infected with the parasite had less "fear of failure" when it came to taking risks in business ventures.

Out of 1,495 college students CU Boulder examined, the subjects who tested positive for the cat-borne bug were 1.7 times more likely to major in business. Another survey of 197 working professionals found that people infected with gondii were nearly twice as likely to start their own business.

"New ventures have high failure rates, so a fear of failure is quite rational. T.gondii might just reduce that rational fear," CU Boulder's Stefanie K. Johnson added.

However, there's no need for alarm over this global cat parasite. The CDC says anyone infected with gondii will likely never know they have it "because a healthy person's immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness."

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