Space travel gives astronauts of shingles and cold sores: stress in orbit is "triggering herpes flare-ups"
- Astronauts had increased levels of cold wound virus and glandular fever
- Seven percent had real attacks while they were in the universe, but many threw out viruses
- Experts worry that durability in the area damages the immune system
Sam Blanchard Health Reporter for Mailonline
Herpes viruses are returning to life for most astronauts traveling to space, according to the study.
The researchers said that one in 14 people (7 percent) who was carrying a virus had a scarring while in space, while about 57 percent lost more viruses than on the ground.
Viruses that cause cold wounds, shingles and glandular fever, over time, become sleepy, but periods of stress or exhaustion can bring them back to life.
If entering the space weakens the immune system enough to cause inactive viruses to appear on the surface, it could pose risks to people's health on longer expeditions, experts say.
The longer the astronauts spend in space, the higher the levels of herpes virus found in their body fluids, according to research, because stress and exhaustion caused by space travel weakens the immune system (image of the stock)
NASA-funded NASA scientists studied 89 astronauts on space flights and the International Space Station (ISS) if they went there.
They tested saliva astronauts for traces of HSV-1, a strain of herpes that causes ulcers in the cold, and can also affect the genitals and other parts of the body.
About 53 percent of astronauts and 61 percent of ISS astronauts had traces of virus spread – when it was being played and trying to expand.
And as humans continued to live in space for a long time, the virus was more active and the quantities in which it was detected were greater.
The study says several people in the study developed shingles while in orbit.
Researchers say that space travel is causing a sudden increase in stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which are known to have a weak immune system.
It was also found that astronauts produce increased amounts of Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever; varicella-zoster, which causes varices and shingles; and cytomegalovirus, which is usually harmless. All are herpes viruses.
"NASA's astronauts endure weeks or even months exposed to microgravity and cosmic radiation – not to mention extreme G-forces of flight and re-entry," said study author Dr Satish Mehta.
HOW DO VIRUS REACTIVATE?
Herpes viruses, such as those that cause ulcers, genital herpes, glandular fever, aquatic ailments and shingles, eventually become drowsy in the body.
This means they stop causing symptoms, but never leave.
Viruses live in the nerves, where they can spend months or years without any signs of infection if the immune system can keep them under control.
Some people will become asymptomatic carriers of the virus, which means they have a virus in their body and can transmit it, but they do not have wounds or other symptoms.
However, if the immune system is weakened, viruses can break out and cause diseases, such as mouth or genital sores, or on the skin as in the case of shingles.
Antiviral drugs can help these symptoms undergo control and suppress viruses if people suffer regularly, but the body can not be cleansed of them.
Professor Rolf Renne of the University of Florida, said in a study in 2014: "It's probably 95 percent infected with at least one herpes virus, but many people have no problems with it."
"This physical challenge is enhanced by more famous stressors such as social separation, closure, and altered sleep and alertness."
He added: "During the flight in the universe there is an increase in the secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which are known to suppress the immune system.
"Accordingly, we have discovered that the astronaut immune cells – especially those that normally suppress and eliminate viruses – become less effective during space flight, and sometimes up to 60 days later."
Dr. Mehta and his team proposed a longer time spent in space-for example, flights to Mars that could last for almost a year in each direction-could pose a health risk to space explorers.
And astronauts may be more prone to spreading viruses when they return to earth.
It is known that traveling to space damages the health of the astronaut – they can suffer from weaker muscles and bones, a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease and cancer, and problems with heart rhythms.
Herpes viruses, of which there are eight types that infect people, usually spread through contact from skin to skin and are very common.
It is believed that more than two-thirds of people under the age of 50 in the world (3.7 billion) have HSV-1, according to the World Health Organization.
While it is estimated that one in 10 (11%) of 15 to 49 years has HSV-2, the main cause of genital herpes.
It is believed that more than 90 percent of people carry Epstein-Barr virus, while almost a third of people develop shingles, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The research was published in Frontiers and Microbiologists.