Vol. 2, No. 4 , 1996, Page 7


Mental illness is a strong risk factor for violent or criminal behavior (See Crime Times, Vol. 2, No. 3, Page 1&2). While the causes of most mental illnesses remain a mystery, surprising new research suggests that some cases of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are associated with the Borna virus, an infectious agent that causes aggression, hyperactivity, and other behavioral disorders in animals.

Researchers have previously reported that antibodies to Borna virus are present in up to a third of patients with schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, compared to only two percent of non-disabled individuals. Recently, Liv Bode et al. isolated a strain of Borna virus in mood- disordered human subjects and injected it into laboratory animals, which developed behavioral problems. Researcher R. Michael Hendry told Science News that "this is the first solid clue that an infectious agent may be linked to mental illness."


"Is mental illness infectious?" Science News, Vol. 150, No. 7, August 17, 1996.


"A borna virus cDNA encoding a protein recognized by antibodies in humans with behavioral diseases," Susan VandeWoude et al., Science, Vol. 250, No. 4985, November 30, 1990.

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