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J Infect Dis. 1994 Dec;170(6):1586-9.

Neuroinvasion and persistence of human herpesvirus 6 in children.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York.


Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) causes a febrile illness in children and has been implicated as a cause of encephalitis and recurrent seizures. Paired samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 487 children were evaluated by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for evidence of current or past infection with HHV-6. PBMC were also cultured for isolation of HHV-6. These data were correlated with the patients' clinical information. HHV-6 DNA was detected in 72 (14.8%) of 487 CSF samples. HHV-6 persistence was documented in 142 children by PCR detection of HHV-6 DNA in PBMC or CSF (or both) in the absence of primary HHV-6 infection; the central nervous system was the only site of HHV-6 DNA persistence in 28.9%. HHV-6 DNA can be detected in the CSF of children during and after primary infection, and the central nervous system may be the sole site of persistence.

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