Common Herpes Virus Could Cause 50 Percent of Alzheimer’s Disease Cases, Expert Says

(COMMON DREAMS) December 13, 2018

The herpes virus, which triggers cold sores, could be the cause of at least half of the cases of Alzheimer’s disease, a leading expert concluded after reviewing existing data on the neurodegenerative condition.

As many as 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, an estimated 67 percent of the world’s population, have the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), according to the World Health Organization.

Most commonly transmitted from mouth-to-mouth contact, the infection generally does not result in any symptoms. But it can cause unpleasant blisters, or cold sores, to erupt on the face.

Once a person is infected, it cannot be cured and lies dormant in the body. Symptoms can re-emerge when a person is run-down. By the age of 60, most people have been infected with the virus. A further 417 million people between the ages of 15 and 49 have HSV-2, which is a sexually transmitted disease affecting the genitals.

Owing to the prevalence of herpes, as well as the alarming rates at which Alzheimer’s is being diagnosed (with the number of cases expected to hit 82 million in 2030, and 152 million in 2050) the association between the two is ripe for investigation.