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Emerg Infect Dis. 1999 May-Jun; 5(3): 353–366.
PMCID: PMC2640789

Human herpesvirus 6: An emerging pathogen.


Infections with human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), a beta-herpesvirus of which two variant groups (A and B) are recognized, is very common, approaching 100% in seroprevalence. Primary infection with HHV-6B causes roseola infantum or exanthem subitum, a common childhood disease that resolves spontaneously. After primary infection, the virus replicates in the salivary glands and is shed in saliva, the recognized route of transmission for variant B strains; it remains latent in lymphocytes and monocytes and persists at low levels in cells and tissues. Not usually associated with disease in the immunocompetent, HHV-6 infection is a major cause of opportunistic viral infections in the immunosuppressed, typically AIDS patients and transplant recipients, in whom HHV-6 infection/reactivation may culminate in rejection of transplanted organs and death. Other opportunistic viruses, human cytomegalovirus and HHV-7, also infect or reactivate in persons at risk. Another disease whose pathogenesis may be correlated with HHV-6 is multiple sclerosis. Data in favor of and against the correlation are discussed.

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Selected References

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