Human Herpesvirus

In our most recent work we compared the frequency of HHV-6A and/or HHV-6B infections in children with febrile seizures (including FSE) and a control group of febrile children without seizures to see if there was a link between HHV-6A/B infection and febrile seizures.

Children infected by Human Herpesvirus 6B with febrile seizures are more likely to develop febrile status epilepticus: A case-control study in a referral hospital in Zambia


Background: Human herpesvirus 6B (HHV-6B) is the causative agent of Roseola infantum, and has also been suggested to play a role in the pathogenesis of febrile seizures in young children, a percentage of whom go on to develop febrile status epilepticus (FSE), but the existing data is conflicting and inconclusive. HHV-6A is a distinct species, rarely detected in most parts of the world, but prior studies suggest a higher prevalence in febrile African children. We describe a case-control study comparing the frequency of HHV-6A and/or HHV-6B infections in children with febrile seizures (including FSE) and a control group of febrile children without seizures.

Methods: We recruited children aged 6 to 60 months admitted with a febrile illness with (cases) or without (controls) seizures presenting within 48 hours of commencement of fever. Three milliliters of whole blood was centrifuged and plasma stored at -80°C for pooled screening for HHV-6B and HHV-6A by Taqman real-time polymerase chain reaction.

Results: 102 cases and 95 controls were recruited. The prevalence of HHV-6B DNA detection did not differ significantly between cases (5.8% (6/102)) and controls (10.5% (10/95)) but HHV-6B infection was associated with FSE (OR, 15; 95% CI, [1.99-120]; P= 0.009). HHV-6A was not detected.

Conclusion: Prevalence of HHV-6B was similar among cases and controls. Within the FS group, HHV-6B infection was associated with FSE, suggesting HHV-6B infections could play a role in the pathogenesis of FSE.


Prevalence and risk factors for betaherpesvirus DNAemia in children >3 weeks and <2 years of age admitted to a large referral hospital in sub-Saharan Africa. Tembo J, Kabwe M, Chilukutu L, Chilufya M, Mwaanza N, Chabala C, Zumla A, Bates M. Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Feb 1;60(3):423-31. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu853. Epub 2014 Oct 28.PMID: 25352585 Predominant human herpesvirus 6 variant A infant infections in an HIV-1 endemic region of Sub-Saharan Africa. Bates M, Monze M, Bima H, Kapambwe M, Clark D, Kasolo FC, Gompels UA. J Med Virol. 2009 May;81(5):779-89. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21455. PMID: 19319952 Congenital cytomegalovirus infections in sub-Saharan Africa–a neglected and growing problem. Bates M, Tembo J, Zumla A. Trop Med Int Health. 2014 Aug;19(8):996-8. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12317. Epub 2014 Apr 10. PMID: 24716662 Empirical treatment against cytomegalovirus and tuberculosis in HIV-infected infants with severe pneumonia: study protocol for a multicenter, open-label randomized controlled clinical trial. Rojo P, Moraleda C, Tagarro A, Domínguez-Rodríguez S, Castillo LM, Tato LMP, López AS, Manukyan L, Marcy O, Leroy V, Nardone A, Burger D, Bassat Q, Bates M, Moh R, Iroh Tam PY, Mvalo T, Magallhaes J, Buck WC, Sacarlal J, Musiime V, Chabala C, Mujuru HA.Trials. 2022 Jun 27;23(1):531. doi: 10.1186/s13063-022-06203-1. PMID: 35761406


TWIV – This Week In Virology
Check out Prof Vincent Racaniello’s fantastic weekly podcast from Columbia University

Vincent Racaniellos Virology Lecturer Series 2015 on Youtube.

ViralZone – excellent entry ports into the magical world of viruses from ExPASy and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB)


There are nine herpesvirus species for which humans are the natural reservoir. They cause a diverse set of diseases affecting a broad range of tissues and organ systems. Primary infection results in life-long latent infection with periodic reactivations which are more common for some species than others. Disease presentation often differs between primary infection and reactivation, or re-infection with different strains. 

Herpesviruses are well established as causal pathogens in many well characterised diseases which result from direct pathology of the virus in a specific tissue or organ, but they are also associated with several neurological conditions and malignancies, where the exact causal mechanisms are less clear. 

There is a long and expanding list of conditions in which herpesviruses may play a causal role, and one of the greatest challenges to the herpesvirus researcher or practitioner, is to differentiate active infections causing pathology which might respond to treatment, from sub-clinical infections.

Species Abbreviation Diseases
Herpes Simplex Virus-1 HSV-1 Cold sores, genital sores, Neonatal Herpes Simplex, Alzheimers, Encephalitis, Whitlow
Herpes Simplex Virus-2 HSV-2 Cold sores, genital sores, Neonatal Herpes Simplex
Varicella Zoster Virus VZV Chicken Pox, Herpes Zoster (Shingles), Encephalitis, Pneumonia, Post Herpetic Neuralgia, Zoster Multiplex, Myelitis, Herpes Ophthalmicus, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Epstein Barr Virus EBV Infectious mononucleosis, Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Burkitt's Lymphoma, Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma, CNS Lymphomas associated with HIV. Plus linked with autoimmune diseases: Dermatomyositis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjögren's Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis
Human Cytomegalovirus HCMV Pneumonia, Congenital HCMV, disseminated infections affecting multiple organ systems in immunosuppressed patient groups
Juman Herpesvirus 6A HHV-6A Neuroinflammatory diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Rhomboencephalitis. AIDS progression.
Juman Herpesvirus 6B HHV-6B Exanthem Subitum, Febrile Seizures, Status Epilepticus, Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
Juman Herpesvirus 7 HHV-7 Exanthem Subitum, Febrile Seizures
Kaposi's Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus KSHV Kaposi's Sarcoma, Primary Effusion Lymphoma, Multicentric Castleman's Disease
Herpez Logo Negative

Contact Us