Herpes, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), is extremely contagious and can result in oral or genital outbreaks, depending on which virus patients have. Now, experts report that the infection may also spark schizophrenia. Konasale Prasad from the University of Pittsburgh recently discovered that the herpes simplex virus caused individuals to perform worse on cognitive tests during a controlled study, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Prasad believes that this may have a negative impact on individuals who have schizophrenia, but further research needs to be conducted before a definitive conclusion can be made.
"I think the triggers are going to be infectious agents that get into the brain relatively early in life and are triggered in the late teens and early adulthood." E. Fuller Torrey, a schizophrenia researcher at the Stanley Medical Research Institute, told the news source.
Specifically, Prasad looked at the herpes simplex virus for herpes type 1, the variety that causes cold sores and can eventually lead to blindness. The infection can attack the eyes and eventually make its way up to the brain. While in this area, the virus may then kill off critical neurons.
Herpes 1 and 2
The main difference between herpes 1 and 2 is that the first is commonly associated with the mouth. Those who have the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) are likely to experience cold sores, but the symptoms of the infection are typically few and far between, meaning individuals may not know they have it until months after contracting it. On the other hand, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) generally affects the genitals. This means that individuals may spot sores on their reproductive organs and experience outbreaks regularly.
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be spread through both oral sex and intercourse. The exchange of bodily fluids can result in the infection going from one person to another, and herpes cannot be cured. However, certain medications can be used to treat patients during outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The easiest way to prevent contracting herpes is to maintain a monogamous relationship with an individual who is STD-free. Those who have multiple sexual partners can reduce their chances of contracting an STD, such as herpes or chlamydia, through the use of condoms. SexualHealth.com can conduct testing for individuals who think that they may have an STD and keep them from spreading it to others.