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Czech research: Common cytomegalovirus lowers intelligence

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Prague, April 29 (CTK) – A Czech research team from the Faculty of Science of Prague’s Charles University revealed that the very common cytomegalovirus (CMV) lowered the intelligence of the infected people, the team’s head Jaroslav Flegr told CTK.

The team’s study was issued in the prestigious journal Scientific Reports at the end of March.

The CMV herpetic virus infected 52 percent of the tested subjects. Flegr said most of senior citizens get infected with CMV. “I suppose that nearly all get eventually infected in their life,” he said.

Flegr said the main trick that CMV learnt is not to harm the infected very much so that they can spread it further and doctors do not fight it. “The whole population will gradually get infected,” he said.

Those infected may have no symptoms at all, but it may case serious problems to patients with weakened immune systems. A chronic infection may affect cognitive functions, including intelligence.

The team did not expect CMV to affect intelligence and it studied it within its long-term work on toxoplasmosis, which lowers intelligence as well.

While toxoplasmosis seems to lower intelligence of rodents to manipulate them to increase the chance that a cat will catch and eat the rodent as the cat is the final host of toxoplasmosis, CMV does not need anything such, Flegr said.

Flegr’s team now wants to study other viruses. The next will be the Epstein-Barr virus (EB virus, EBV), which is known as the cause of infectious mononucleosis.

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