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12 - Human herpes viruses types 6, 7 and 8 (HHV 6, 7 and 8)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2009

Goura Kudesia
Affiliation:
Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Tim Wreghitt
Affiliation:
Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge
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Summary

The viruses

Human herpes viruses 6, 7 and 8 all are double-stranded DNA viruses and belong to the family Herpesviridae.

  • HHV6 (beta herpesvirus)

  • HHV7 (beta herpesvirus)

  • HHV8 (gamma herpesvirus)

Epidemiology

Route of spread

  • HHV6: aerosol transmission and saliva from mothers to babies and breast milk.

  • HHV7: aerosol transmission and saliva from mothers to babies and breast milk.

  • HHV8: there is some evidence of sexual spread via semen and possibly vertically from mother to child. HHV8 has been transmitted to transplant recipients from donor organs.

Prevalence

  • HHV6 infection is ubiquitous and occurs worldwide. Infection often occurs after 4 months of age, as maternally acquired immunity wanes.

  • HHV7 infection is ubiquitous and occurs worldwide. Most children (95%) acquire the infection by 5 years of age.

  • HHV8 infection is more prevalent in Italy, Greece, Israel and Saudi Arabia than in northern Europe. These countries have a higher prevalence of Kaposi's sarcoma. In the UK, the HHV8 antibody prevalence is <5% in blood donors and 30–50% in HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM). Human herpes virus 8 antibody prevalence is 85% in patients with Kaposi's sarcoma.

At-risk groups

Immunocompromised patients are at increased risk of more severe infection and clinical disease.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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