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J Infect Dis. 2002 Jan 1;185(1):110-3. Epub 2001 Dec 14.

Selective reactivation of human herpesvirus 6 variant a occurs in critically ill immunocompetent hosts.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Reactivation of human beta-herpesviruses (cytomegalovirus [CMV], human herpesvirus [HHV]-6, and HHV-7) in nonimmunocompromised hosts is rare. Because these viruses are susceptible to reactivation by cytokines and stress-related mechanisms, the incidence of their reactivation was investigated among 120 patients during stress related to critical illness and compared with findings among 50 healthy volunteers. Human beta-herpesvirus DNA was found in 65% of critically ill patients (60% men; mean age, 63 years) who required admission to an intensive care unit for medical (40%) or surgical (53%) indications or trauma (7%). HHV-6 reactivation was higher in critically ill patients than in healthy volunteers (54/101 vs. 0/50; P=.001). All patients except 1 were confirmed as HHV-6 variant A (mean virus load, 5066 copies/10(6) peripheral blood leukocytes). The reactivation of HHV-6A did not affect disease severity and outcome. No significant reactivation of HHV-7 or CMV was demonstrated among the critically ill patients. These findings contribute to the less-defined epidemiology of HHV-6A infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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