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Mol Psychiatry. 1999 Jan;4(1):33-8.

High seroprevalence of Borna virus infection in schizophrenic patients, family members and mental health workers in Taiwan.

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Department of Psychiatry, Tzu-Chi General Hospital, Hualien, Taiwan.


Borna disease virus (BDV), a negative-strand RNA virus, has been reported to be associated with severe psychiatric disorders. The association is mainly based on the findings that patients with schizophrenia and depression have a higher seroprevalence rate of BDV-specific antibodies than controls. In addition, psychiatric patients were also found to have a higher detection rate of BDV transcripts in their blood than controls. By using an improved Western blot analysis, we first demonstrated that Chinese schizophrenic patients from Taiwan also have a higher seroprevalence of BDV-specific antibodies than controls (12.1% vs 2.9%, P< 0.001), providing support to the positive association between BDV and psychiatric disorders in our population. Because of the contagious nature of viral infection, we further examined patients' family members and mental health workers, who have close contact with patients. We found that both groups also have a higher seroprevalence of BDV-specific antibodies, 12.1% and 9.8%, respectively, than controls. This finding provides some evidence for a possible human-to-human transmission of Borna disease virus. Our finding needs further independent verification from other research groups and the clinical relevance of this preliminary observation deserves further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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