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Human herpesvirus 6

  [ 19 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Braun DK, Dominguez G, Pellett PE • • July 10, 1997

Human herpesvirus 6 variant A (HHV-6A) and human herpesvirus 6
variant B (HHV-6B) are two closely related yet distinct
viruses. These visuses belong to the Roseolovirus genus of the
betaherpesvirus subfamily; they are most closely related to
human herpesvirus 7 and then to human cytomegalovirus. Over
95% of people older than 2 years of age are seropositive for
either or both HHV-6 variants, and current serologic methods
are incapable of discriminating infection with one variant
from infection with the other. HHV-6A has not been
etiologically linked to any human disease, but such an
association will probably be found soon. HHV-6B is the
etiologic agent of the common childhood illness exanthem
subitum (roseola infantum or sixth disease) and related
febrile illnesses. These viruses are frequently active and
associated with illness in immunocompromised patients and may
play a role in the etiology of Hodgkin's disease and other
malignancies. HHV-6 is a commensal inhabitant of brains;
various neurologic manifestations, including convulsions and
encephalitis, can occur during primary HHV-6 infection or in
immunocompromised patients. HHV-6 and distribution in the
central nervous system are altered in patients with multiple
sclerosis; the significance of this is under investigation.

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