Posted on Apr 09, 2013, 6 a.m.
Viral and bacterial infections may lead to compromised cognitive skills.
The virus that causes cold sores, along with other viral or bacterial infections, may associate with cognitive problems. Mira Katan, from Columbia University Medical Center (New York, USA), and colleagues tested thinking and memory in 1,625 people, average age 69 years, enrolled in The Northern Manhattan Study. Participants gave blood samples that were tested for five common low grade infections: three viruses (herpes simplex type 1 (oral) and type 2 (genital), and cytomegalovirus), chlamydia pneumoniae (a common respiratory infection) and Helicobacter pylori (a bacteria found in the stomach). The results showed that the people who had higher levels of infection had a 25% increase in the risk of a low score on the Mini-Mental State Examination, with the study authors commenting that: “Past infections may contribute to cognitive impairment.”
Katan M, Moon YP, Paik MC, Sacco RL, Wright CB, Elkind MS. “Infectious burden and cognitive function: The Northern Manhattan Study.” Neurology. 2013 Mar 26;80(13):1209-15.