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J Med Virol. 2004 Jan;72(1):126-31.

Comparison of human herpesvirus 8 and Epstein-Barr virus seropositivity among children in areas endemic and non-endemic for Kaposi's sarcoma.

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  • 1Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) is the etiologic agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). Several studies indicate horizontal HHV-8 transmission among children in areas where KS is endemic, but few studies have assessed acquisition of HHV-8 by children in low seroprevalence areas. Antibody screening was carried out for HHV-8 and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) on 787 serum specimens from children living in two areas where HHV-8 is not endemic, the United States (US) and Germany, and on 184 specimens from children living in a KS-endemic area (Nigeria). For children in the US and Germany, the results showed low HHV-8 seroprevalence rates (3-4%). However, US children aged 6 months to 5 years had higher HHV-8 antibody titers than did 6-17-year-old children (P < 0.01), a finding consistent with more recent infections being detected in the younger children. Compared with seroprevalence rates and antibody titers in US and German children, those in Nigerian children were significantly higher, and seroprevalence increased with age. There was no evidence of cross-reactivity between assays for HHV-8 and EBV, despite the genetic similarity of these two herpesviruses. The data indicate that HHV-8 transmission among children where HHV-8 is not endemic occurs, but is uncommon. The findings also suggest that HHV-8 antibodies, as measured by current tests, may not persist for long periods in populations at low risk for KS and that vertical transmission is rare, although longitudinal studies are necessary to address directly these issues.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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