• Clinical science

Herpes virus infections

Abstract

Human herpesviruses (HHV) are a large family of DNA viruses that remain dormant in a host following primary infection. An overview of the eight subtypes known to cause various diseases (ranging from asymptomatic to fatal disease courses) in humans is provided below. The specific conditions caused by the various HHVs are discussed in separate learning cards. Follow the links provided in the overview table below.

Overview

HHV -Subtypes Characteristics Mode of transmission Disease
HHV-1 Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1)
  • Seroprevalence: ≥ 90% in adults
  • Antivirals may be indicated (see acyclovir)
  • After primary infection, the virus remains dormant in nerve ganglia (typically trigeminal).
  • Saliva
  • Respiratory secretions
HHV-2 Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2)
  • Seroprevalence: 10–30% in adults
  • Antivirals may be indicated (see acyclovir)
  • After primary infection, the virus remains dormant in nerve ganglia (typically sacral).
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Perinatal
HHV-3 Varicella zoster virus (VZV)
  • Seroprevalence: up to 90%
  • Antivirals may be indicated (see acyclovir).
  • Vaccinations are widely used to prevent VZV infections in children.
  • Respiratory secretions
  • Vesicular fluid
HHV-4 Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Seroprevalence: ≥ 65% in children[3]
  • Oncogenic potential: can immortalize and transform host B cells
  • Uses CD21 receptor to cause infection in B cells
  • Saliva
  • Respiratory secretions
HHV-5 Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Seroprevalance: ∼ 40% in children in the US; highest in communities with low socioeconomic status
  • Morphologic features of infected cells: "Owl-eye appearance"
  • Antivirals may be indicated (see ganciclovir, foscarnet, and fomivirsen).
  • Uses integrins to cause infection
HHV-6
  • Virus spreads early.
  • To be determined
HHV-7
HHV-8 Kaposi's sarcoma-associated virus (KSHV)
  • Seroprevalence: < 10% in the US
  • Seroprevalence is higher in men who have sex with men (MSM) (up to 25%) and HIV-positive patients (30–70%).
  • Sexual intercourse

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last updated 12/14/2018
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