A recent study at the New York State Department of Public Health, Albany and SUNY has revealed that a herpes virus may be responsible for central nervous system diseases.
Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), most prevalent in humans and has two variants of HHV-6, HHV-6A and HHV-6B, which are associated with a common childhood disease characterized by a high fever and rash.
Various studies have revealed the most of children by the age of 3, are infected by HHV-6, after which the virus persists in the salivary glands into adulthood.
The evidence recommends that the herpesvirus may be responsible for some cases of meningitis and encephalitis.
Over a period of four years, the researchers collected specimens of from patients hospitalised with symptoms of encephalitis and meningitis.
The specimens were taken from cerebrospinal fluid and some of the symptoms exhibited by the patients include fever, altered mental status, and abnormal CSF profile, as well as seizures in those ages 3 and under.
The findings revealed that 26 specimens from 24 patients were positive for HHV-6, of which 20 were identified as the HHV-6B strain.
Forty-two percent of the patients were age 3 or under, possibly indicating primary infection, while the remaining patients ranging from 4 to 81 years old were probably experiencing viral.
"The detection of HHV-6 in specimens from patients diagnosed with encephalitis or meningitis, in the absence of a positive PCR result for other agents, strongly suggests a role for HHV-6 in the pathogenesis of these central system diseases," the researchers.
The findings appear in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.