Herpes, Circumcision and Alzheimers – Was Rabbi Tendler Right?

A new study seems to show that the herpes virus of cold sore and metzitza b’peh (MBP) infamy may play a role in the contracting, r"l, of Alzheimers Disease. LiveScience.com reports:

New research supports growing concerns that herpes plays a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

The latest work, announced today, shows a link between a gene and herpes simplex 1, or HSV. The form of the ApoE gene called ApoE-4 is the leading known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. And HSV is the form of herpes that causes cold sores around the mouth. More than 80 percent of Americans are infected with HSV.

The researchers, at the University of Rochester Medical Center, found that ApoE-4 effectively puts out a welcome mat for the herpes virus, allowing it to be more active in the brain.

“The data suggest that ApoE-4 may support the ability of HSV to be a more virulent pathogen,” said Howard Federoff, lead author of the research published online in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.…

HSV is a chronic infection that lives in people for a lifetime, periodically flaring up. The virus is usually latent, locked inside cells, but occasionally stress, fatigue, certain foods and even sunlight can spark the virus into an active phase that damages cells and causes cold sores.

The alert among us may recall that Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler suggested that herpes transmitted through MBP, which is  known to cause severe brain damage, might also adversely (or "sub-clinically") impact the brains of newborns, causing learning disabilities and even mild retardation. His educated guess may not be far off.



Filed under Bio-Ethics, Circumcision Controversy, Haredim

16 responses to “Herpes, Circumcision and Alzheimers – Was Rabbi Tendler Right?

  1. Of course Rabbi Moshe Tendler is right. Charedi Orthodox kids have more special education classes than ever, and the average Charedi teenager has a well below average IQ. Talk about dementia, one has to only look at the gedoiiiiilim today.

  2. Garnel Ironheart

    First of all, there’s a difference between being witty and vulgar.
    Secondly, the previous comment validates the old Chareidi claim: We’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t. There are more special education classes could mean that the Chareidim are finally cluing in that all children need an education and that they’re finally get those with special needs addressed, or it could mean that they’re a bunch of retards. So by taking a potentially progressive move, people still criticize them. Talk about glass houses.
    Having said that, I have a friend whose son was infected by HSV through MBP. The denial on the chareidi side of the arguement was virtually a joke. It can”t have happened, they said, because the gedolim say it can’t. Poor Rav Tendeler. Do you know how much tzurus he went through?

  3. One does not have to be a genius to crunch the numbers. 80% of adults are walking around with a herpes virus. The mohelim that perform the metziza, I’ll bet are 100% infected, (according to my kid’s pediatrician)what will it take for the Charedim to get the fact that they are risking their kids life over a nonsensical archaic sickening practice?
    Rabbi Tendler was the one that said,that the reason for an increase in special ed., in his opinion, was because of the effect that herpes has on the brain functions.

  4. Noclue

    One does not have to defend MBP to realize that this could not result in a noticably significant increase in special education.

    The best figures are that the infection rate from MBP is about one in every few thousand. Being conservative (very) and estimating the rate at one in 500 (very abitrary) that could not result in an appreciable (from a statistical standpoint) increase in special ed cases, even if every infection leads to a special ed case, which is highly unlikely and for which Dr. Tendler never argued.

    If you want to look for an increase in special ed. it is proobably due to (a) having kids at older ages, with an incraese in Downs Syndrome; (b) a higher diagnosis rate.

    Special ed students are more prevalent in poor school districts and wealthy suburbs.
    Because Charedim have characteristics of both
    it is not surprising they would have a high incidence of special ed.

    As for Charedi teenagers having lower IQs, where is the evidence for that?

  5. Noclue,

    Hu shmo cain. The contraction of herpes from MBP can take place years, even decades after the actual incident of MBP transpired. What we are slowly seeing has everything to do with infected kids that contracted herpes in one manner or another. The chances of a Mohel like Yitzchok Fisher, who has been diagnosed with oral herpes, to infect his prey with herpes are over 90%. He boasts of doing thousands of brisin a year, do the math and get a clue!

  6. Noclue

    No mo man.

    I read all the published journal articles referenced except one which was not availabler on line, including the Pediatrics article, in addition to the health advisory put out by NYC Commissioner Friedan, and it is fairly clear that the incidence of infection is less than one in 1000. My best estimate was that it is one in several thousand.

    The Pediatrics article itself notes the low reported incidence, although it states that the incidence may be higher due to unreported cases, the (in)famous may be a tip of an iceberg comment. In addition, the contraction period is several days, not years. Read the Pediatrics article.

    Unfortunately, you are letting your politics color the facts, instead of vice versa.

  7. I misspoke. The contraction of herpes takes days, it’s the virus that can lay dormant for years or decades and can manifest itself in illnesses that can appear to be unrelated to the contraction of herpes. I too read all the available literature.

  8. Anyway, what’s a few Charedi kids here and there?

  9. anon

    A chasidishe father of many said that this practice is from the time of the Rambam and that the chances of getting it are one in a couple of thousand. No big deal statistically. No I understand how primitive and not so primitive cultures sacrificed children to their gods.

  10. Noclue

    I never defended the practice. I only pointed out that the practice could not explain a large or even noticeable increase in special education cases.

    Once again, read what I wrote.

  11. A Disturbing Admission By Still Wonderin’

    This morning after davening, a very friendly man with long peyos, knickers, and a warm, animated smile approached me to let me know he was collecting for families in Israel. I’m knew he wasn’t asking me for $1.

    He didn’t ask me for a dime, but rather my name and address. This after handing me an envelope containing several laudatory letters from rabbonim in Monsey and Israel along with a page describing his tzedaka.

    I smiled and made light, halting conversation, as he spoke Hebrew, which I barely understand. He made himself understood and his huge smile was earnest and pleasant.

    Yet, all I could think as he spoke, as I was giving him my information was, “I just can’t send money to people who refuse to help themselves, and, in fact, stymie any internal efforts toward self-sufficiency.”

    As I walked to may car, I was thinking: “I can’t send money to families that produce rock-throwing, rioting, blindly following, welfare cheating, tznius-Nazi stormtrooping, bleach throwing, store fire-bombing, dumpster torching, bus shelter vandalizing, ignorantly self-destructive agitating, dogmaticly anti-zionist propogating , maliciously boycotting, sex-abuse justifying, women hating, freeeloading deadbeats.”

    It made me sad. I love Jews of all stripes from both sides of the spectrum. In particular, I know that Chassidim are warmhearted and welcoming. I know the Satmar Bikkur Cholim is legendary for its chesed. I’ve been the recipient of certain kindness from Chassidim. I know that learning Torah is of utmost importance.

    But I also know that Chassidishe, Yeshivishe, and Chareidi communities have created, perfected, and normalized unfathomably destructive trends and attitudes to Orthodoxy, in the process besmirching all religious Jews.

    So to all Chareidim and Chassidim out there, there was a time when you had me at Hello. But now, to take a line from the movie Crash: You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself.

    I’m wonderin’ if I’m alone.

    posted by Still Wonderin’

  12. Anonymous

    “I never defended the practice. I only pointed out that the practice could not explain a large or even noticeable increase in special education cases.”

    He’s right. It probably has more to do with inbreeding than with herpes, although we should not discount the effects of herpes, either. Even one dead or diseased child is one too many.

    But they won’t give up the practice, because they enjoooooyyyyy it too much.

  13. Dag

    you are mixing apples and oranges. the study you quote notes an association betweeen herpes and alzheimers in adults…the risk of damage from herpes for a baby are signifgantly higher than that of an adult

  14. Chava

    First of all, over 90% of adults according to most medical sources are HSV positive. Pretty hard to link HSV, much less MBP, to something that is so ubiquitous in adults. Secondly, Alzheimer’s and encepalopathy from HSV are two different animals. And thirdly, there is a lot of current research that links Alzheimers to insulin and is being posited as a ‘type 3 diabetes’. This post just strikes me as a sniper fire against MBP and doesn’t hit the target at all.

  15. Funny. Every physician I’ve taled to thinks Rabbi Tendler is correct. Perhaps they’re not educated in disease transmission.

  16. Dave

    I was wondering how my grandma got the disease. Thanks Scott

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