Here’s a scary headline: Alzheimer’s disease may be the result of an infection that you could “catch” from other people! That’s the gist of new research from the University of Texas Medical School. In a study, researchers injected brain tissue from Alzheimer’s patients into healthy mice. And over time, the mice developed the same kind of brain damage found in Alzheimer’s patients! Researchers say the process was similar to the way Mad Cow Disease spreads, which happens when cows eat food contaminated by other cows. Then, infected proteins accumulate in the brain, and kill neuron cells.

Experts say what this new study suggests is that some cases of Alzheimer’s may be the result of a transmissible infection – similar to staph infections, STDs, or diseases like tuberculosis. The difference is that those diseases are spread by body fluid. But for Alzheimer’s to spread, researchers say people would need to come into contact with infected human brain tissue, which is unlikely.

That’s why more studies are needed to figure out how Alzheimer’s may be transmitted from one person to another. We’ll keep you posted if we hear anything new.