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They’re creepy and they’re kooky
Proprietors of amusement park haunted houses have a finely calibrated sense of just how much to scare the public—in particular they know not to overplay the bad smells.
However some scientists just can’t help themselves. They want to scare the bejesus out of you with nostril-based horror stories.
Chlamydia pneumoniae can infect the central nervous system via the olfactory and trigeminal nerves and contributes to Alzheimer’s disease risk
Or, as the New York Post’s headline writers put it,
How picking your nose could increase risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia
Uh, oh. Who amongst us has not pried loose the occasional nose nugget? Are we all doomed? [That’s snot funny.—Ed.]
Stay calm. The nose-picking alarm was set off by an Australian study that involved 17 mice. No humans. And the mice definitely did not get infected by picking their own noses—they were “intranasally inoculated” by the scientists.
Meanwhile, University of Chicago Professor Leslie Kay thinks you should be vewy vewy afwaid of a “looming wave of dementia” caused by COVID-19. Because, you know, COVID has caused an “epidemic of olfactory dysfunction” which suggests a “pattern of degeneration” in olfactory-related brain areas leading to “delayed onset dementia.”
This despite the fact that, according to a new Japanese study, current SARS-CoV-2 variants are far less likely to cause the olfactory dysfunction that has Prof. Kay so alarmed.
The prevalence of dysosmia and dysgeusia remarkably decreased during the Omicron wave (1-3%) compared to during the pre-Omicron variant waves (15-25%).
So why is Prof. Kay beating the panic drum so loudly? Hmmm, could it have something to do with . . . funding?
There is a pressing need for more research on treatments for olfactory dysfunction.
What do we want? More grant money! When do we want it? Now!
Anu Chacko, Ali Delbaz, HeidiWalkden, et al. (2022). Chlamydia pneumoniae can infect the central nervous system via the olfactory and trigeminal nerves and contributes to Alzheimer’s disease risk. Scientific Reports 12, 2759.
Leslie M. Kay (2022). COVID-19 and olfactory dysfunction: a looming wave of dementia? Journal of Neurophysiology, published online August 15, 2022.
Tetsuya Akaishi, Shigeki Kushimoto, Yukio Katori, Noriko Sugawara, Hiroshi Egusa, Kaoru Igarashi, Motoo Fujita, Shigeo Kure, Shin Takayama, Michiaki Abe, Akiko Kikuchi, Minoru Ohsawa, Kota Ishizawa, Yoshiko Abe, Hiroyuki Imai, Yohei Inaba, Yoko Iwamatsu-Kobayashi, Takashi Nishioka, Ko Onodera, and Tadashi Ishii. (2022). COVID-19-related symptoms during the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant surge in Japan. Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine 258:103-110.
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