Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) was first isolated and characterized from patients with lymphoproliferative disorders and was originally named human B-lymphotropic virus. Its name was changed to human herpesvirus 6 as its tropism was further characterised.
HHV-6 is a member of the Herpesviridae family. Its genetic and biologic similarities to human cytomegalovirus (CMV) have prompted its classification in the beta herpesvirus subfamily (genus Roseolovirus, along with human herpesvirus 7).
HHV-6 is recognised as a common childhood infection, which causes roseola (roseola infantum, exanthem subitum, sixth disease). Symptoms include high fever, a maculopapular rash that begins on the face or trunk, complications are rare. Often cases in children are asymptomatic with no roseola. A proportion of children present with febrile seizures.
Primary infection in adults is not common, it presents as a mononucleosis like syndrome with lymphadenopathy, or hepatitis.
HHV-6 disease in immunocompromised adults is usually due to reactivation of latent infection. HHV-6 may be an important opportunistic infection of organ transplant recipients and HIV sero-positive individuals.
HHV-6 is most evident as a cause of disease in Bone marrow transplant recipients.
Microbiology - Virology
Exanthem subitum (Sixth disease)
HHV6 - PCR
CSF - 0.5mL
EDTA blood - 1.0mL
If peripheral blood mononuclear cells are tested, distinguishing active from latent infection can be difficult. When a clinical syndrome is suggestive of HHV-6 disease, evidence of active infection can be demonstrated with a positive PCR result.
However, infection can commonly be present without symptoms therefore a positive PCR result does not prove that a clinical syndrome is caused by HHV-6. Detection of nucleic acid in tissue can provide stronger evidence. HHV6 has been detected in the PBMCs of healthy individuals. Therefore PCR assays on PBMCs may prove to be too sensitive and only useful for excluding current infection.
Human Herpes virus 6 - DNA detection
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