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Experts Say There’s a Herpes-Alzheimer’s Link

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Dementia experts are warning that Alzheimer’s disease could be caused by herpes and other viruses.

A team of 31 scientists and clinicians wrote an editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, arguing that microbes are the major cause of dementia, the Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

“We are saying there is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s Disease has a dormant microbial component. We can’t keep ignoring all of the evidence,” said Douglas Kell, a professor at the University of Manchester’s School of Chemistry and one of the authors of the editorial.

The scientists named the herpes virus, chlamydia bacteria and spirochaete bacteria as possible causes of the disease. They argue in the editorial that antimicrobial drugs might help stop the progression of dementia. The experts said viruses and bacteria are common in the brains of elderly people.

In particular, herpes has been linked to damage in the central nervous system and the limbic system, which is associated with mental decline and personality changes, the Telegraph reported. The experts called for a deeper investigation into the connection.

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Write to Katie Reilly at Katie.Reilly@time.com