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Are People Living With Herpes Likely to Get Alzheimer’s?

Living With Herpes

An editorial published in London’s Telegraph said Alzheimer’s disease can be caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, which causes cold sores. A worldwide team of 31 dementia experts from Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh, the Imperial College and Manchester University had collectively written an editorial suggesting that microbes that cause cold sores and Chlamydia are the major cause of dementia.

Prof. Douglas Kell at the University of Manchester’s School of Chemistry said, “We are saying there is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s disease has a dormant microbial component.” He also said that the evidences collected couldn’t be ignored. Scientists from across the globe have been looking for a viable treatment that could prevent the build – up of plaques that disturbs communication among neurons, eventually leading to loss of memory.

Was the link between HSV – 1 and Alzheimer’s ignored?

According to an editorial published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, it is suggested that viral or bacterial infections tend to trigger plaque build – up and targeting the microbes with specific drugs could prevent dementia.

Statistics reveal that 850,000 people are living with dementia in Britain alone with figures likely to breach the million – mark by 2025. It is also worth mentioning that 412 drug trials were conducted between 2002 and 2012 but none have produced satisfactory results. The authors say that bacteria and virus are common in brains of elderly people. While they’re dormant in most cases, they might ‘wake up’ if triggered by an external agent such as stress or compromise of the immune system.

Statistics also suggest that 2/3rd of the population would acquire herpes at some point in their lives thereby making them vulnerable to getting Alzheimer’s disease. The herpes virus has been known to be notorious, given the fact that it damages the central nervous system as well as the limb system in the brain. These have been linked with personality changes and extreme mood swings.

More: How can I minimize herpes outbreaks?

No Concrete Proof Yet

Dr. James Pickett, Head of Research, Alzheimer’s Society said, “While these observations are interesting and warrant further research, there is currently insufficient evidence to tell us that microbes are responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease in the vast majority of cases. We would like to reassure people that there remains no convincing evidence that Alzheimer’s disease is contagious or can be passed from person to person like a virus”

It has been estimated that 80 percent of the US population has HSV – 1. If the results of this study bear any truth, a large chunk of this population could be at risk of acquiring Alzheimer’s disease. Following the story published in London’s Telegraph, The Washington Post has urged people to “calm down”, given the fact that the results of the study are inconclusive.

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