This Virus Could Increase Your Risk of MS

herpes virus can increase your risk of MS

Some diseases are opportunistic. They piggyback on another infection. So, if you think having herpes is bad enough, think again. Having a certain herpes virus can increase your risk of MS.

Herpes Virus and Multiple Sclerosis

The herpes virus, known as human herpesvirus 6 or HHV6, is the new link from the herpes family to increased risk of MS. HHV6 is actually in reference to a set of herpes viruses. They are HHV-6A and HHV-6B. Almost all humans have HHV-6B already. And, it affects you before your third birthday manifesting as roseola.

In addition, not much is known about how widespread HHV-6A is or how you get it. But, one study found minuscule levels of it in the saliva of half the healthy adults tested.

Furthermore, like herpes simplex, it can become latent in your body. And, reactivate later in your life. When it does reactivate, it can cause serious problems in different parts of your body like the heart, lungs, brain, kidney, and gut. HHV-6 is fatal when it reactivates in the brain. There it causes permanent disability, cognitive dysfunction, and even death.

Multiple sclerosis (MS), on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease. Little is known about it, but it causes your own immune system to attack your myelin in the brain and spinal cord.

The Findings

Now in a recent study analysis, researchers found a link that suggests having HHV6 increases the chances of you developing MS. The link is there, but experts are still in discussion as to why.

One doctor theorizes that HHV-6 releases a protein that prohibits the repair of brain cells, including myelin. This happens when HHV-6 is hiding from the immune system in the brain.

Another study previously linked HHV-6 to multiple sclerosis. The findings indicated traces of the HHV-6 genetic code was found in people with severe forms of MS.

Unfortunately, since more research is needed it is too soon to talk about cures. But, recent findings may be able to narrow down higher risk groups for MS.

Final Thoughts

This herpes virus can increase your risk of MS, but it was probably not the herpes you were thinking of. However, the findings are important because now scientists can start to test for HHV-6 antibodies and identify people with a higher risk of MS.