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Alzheimer’s disease risk of Cold sores (oral herpes simplex) contracted through kissing, etc.

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Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in elderly individuals, usually occurring after age 60, but possibly caused much earlier by viruses like the cold sore virus.[1] Dementia is a decline in cognitive ability that interferes with daily life and activities.

Alzheimer’s disease starts in a region of the brain that affects recent memory, gradually spreading to other parts of the brain. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s although treatment can slow the progression of AD and help manage its symptoms in some people. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living.

In 1906 a German doctor, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, found abnormal clumps (now called amyloid plaques) and tangled bundles of fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles) in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness. The gradual loss of connections between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain leads to diminished brain cell function and brain cell death.

The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, but damage to the brain can begin 10 to 20 years before any obvious signs of forgetfulness appear. As nerve cells die throughout the brain, affected regions begin to shrink. By the final stage of AD, brain damage is widespread, and brain tissue has shrunk significantly.

As many as 2.4 million to 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people age 65 and older is expected to grow from 39 million (2008) to 72 million in 2030, and the number of people with AD doubles for every 5-year interval beyond age 65.

The time from diagnosis to death varies—as little as 3 or 4 years if the person is older than 80 when diagnosed to as long as 10 or more years if the person is younger. Other factors that affect how long a person will live with AD include the person’s sex, the presence of other health problems, and the severity of cognitive problems at diagnosis. (Adapted from

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1. Wozniak MA, Mee AP, Itzhaki RF (January 2009). "Herpes simplex virus type 1 DNA is located within Alzheimer's disease amyloid plaques". J Pathol. 217 (1): 131–8. doi:10.1002/path.2449. PMID 18973185.
Wozniak MA, Shipley SJ, Combrinck M, Wilcock GK, Itzhaki RF (2005) Productive herpes simplex virus in brain of elderly normal subjects and Alzheimer"s disease patients. Journal of medical virology, 75(2), 300-6 Full text doi:10.1002/jmv.20271 | PubMed entry PMID:15602731
Dobson CB, Itzhaki RF (1999). "Herpes simplex virus type 1 and Alzheimer's disease". Neurobiol. Aging 20 (4): 457–65. doi:10.1016/S0197-4580(99)00055-X. PMID 10604441.
Ball MJ. Limbic predilection in Alzheimer dementia: is reactivated herpes virus involved? Can J Neurol Sci 1982;9:303–306.
Middleton PJ, Peteric M, Kozak M, Rewcastle NB, McLachlan DR. (1980). "Herpes simplex viral genome and senile and presenile dementias of Alzheimer and Pick.". Lancet 315: 1038. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(80)91490-7.