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Does Borna disease virus cause mental illness? New study may end two decades of suspicion

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Over the past 30 years, numerous studies have linked Borna disease virus (BDV) with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder and dementia. Genetic fragments and antibodies to this RNA virus, which causes behavior disorders in a range of mammals and birds, have been found to be prevalent in psychiatric patients, but study results have been inconsistent. Now, the first blinded, case-control study to examine this issue finds no association between the virus and psychiatric illness.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and collaborators at seven other institutions in the U.S, Germany and Australia, can be found online at Molecular Psychiatry.

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