Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are made more likely by severe viral infections like encephalitis and pneumonia. Researchers have discovered this information after looking at roughly 500,000 medical data. In a study involving roughly 450,000 participants, researchers identified 22 associations between viral infections and neurodegenerative diseases.
A viral encephalitis patient was 31 times more likely to acquire Alzheimer’s disease than the general population.
The likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis looked to be higher among those who were admitted to the hospital with pneumonia after contracting the flu. A number of neurological illnesses have also been linked to meningitis, intestinal infections, and varicella-zoster virus.
In other instances, the effects of viral infections on the brain persisted for up to 15 years.
For several of these viruses, including influenza, herpes, and pneumonia, astonishingly, vaccinations are already on the market, the researchers noted, according to Science Alert.
Despite the fact that immunisation does not prevent the illness, it significantly lowers hospitalisation rates, and this data raises the possibility that vaccination may lessen some of the risk of acquiring neurodegenerative illnesses. The Epstein-Barr virus has been linked to a 32-fold greater risk of multiple sclerosis, according to a research conducted last year on more than 10 million individuals.
According to lead author and neurogeneticist Michael Nalls, “after reading the report, we recognised that experts had been seeking for years – one by one – for ties between a particular neurodegenerative condition and a specific virus.”
First, the researchers compared the medical histories of a sample of 310,000 healthy controls to those of almost 35,000 Finns with six distinct forms of neurodegenerative illnesses. This retrospective observational study adds to the corpus of evidence that implies a role for viruses in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, even if it cannot demonstrate a causative association.
According to co-author and neurogeneticist Andrew Singleton, “neurodegenerative illnesses constitute a category of diseases for which there are very few effective therapies and numerous risk factors.”