Borna Disease Virus and Mental Health

an illustration of two heads facing away from each other. the left is painted red and the brain is depicted as lots of mess, indicating mental health issues. The right is painted blue, with a clear image of a brain, indicating a healthy brain.

What is borna disease virus? 

Borna disease virus (BDV) is a virus that causes neurological disease and is known to affect various species of wild and domesticated animals. It is most well-known for being a brain disease that infects horses. More recently, it has become evident that this virus can also be found in humans, suggesting that it may be a zoonotic disease.  


How is this virus transmitted? 

Given that this infection has been found in humans as well as various animals, it is reasonable to conclude that it may be a zoonosis, which is a disease that can be passed directly from animals to humans. It is thought that the virus can be spread through food and water that has been contaminated with infected faeces or bodily secretions.  

People who live in areas near animals that are likely to carry this disease are considered to be more at risk of infection. For example, some studies have shown that people living near horse farms or who have been around ostriches have been more likely to test positive for the virus. Some animals may show symptoms when they have BDV, while others are simply asymptomatic carriers. 

Further research is needed to determine if this virus is passed on from person to person. 


How is borna disease virus diagnosed? 

A blood test looking for borna virus antibodies is a standard way of assessing if someone has been exposed to this virus. BDV reproduces at a lower level than some other viruses, making it more difficult to detect. 


What effect can it have on physical health? 

Domestic animals with BDV often show abnormalities in their behaviour. In humans, an infection with BDV may result in symptoms such as a headache or fever. Neurological symptoms can include difficulty walking, confusion, memory loss and seizures.  

Some patients have been reported to have gradually lost consciousness before entering a fatal coma. In some cases, borna virus has been found to lead to the dangerous brain infection, encephalitis, which can be deadly. 

The virus may remain in the brain and blood cells of a host for a lifetime, potentially causing new problems after a long time without symptoms. 


What effect can it have on mental health? 

BDV can affect the part of the brain that controls the memory and emotions. Antibodies for this virus have been found in patients with depression and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, indicating a possible link between BDV and these conditions. Those with this disease may develop behavioural disorders and show signs such as being aggressive or irritable. 

When BDV leads to encephalitis, this may cause psychiatric symptoms in patients who recover from the initial infection. 

One study investigated the use of antiviral medication in patients with both BDV and depression; the participants had been diagnosed with either major depression or bipolar disorder. It was found that the medication successfully fought the infection, while also reducing depressive symptoms. There was a clear difference between the anti-depressant effect of the drug compared to the placebo. This suggests that borna virus may contribute towards symptoms of depression. 


What is the current treatment? 

Borna virus patients may be treated with an antiviral drug such as amantadine. Bioresonance therapy has been found to be effective in removing the symptoms of a borna virus infection by supporting the immune system and the gut, as well as helping the body to detoxify. 



Borna disease virus not only affects animals, but can also cause severe neurological symptoms in humans, which may even be fatal. Even if a serious reaction is not experienced, the presence of this virus may contribute towards mental health problems such as depression. Use of antiviral medication and BICOM® therapy have both been effective in the treatment of this viral disease.