ME/CFS in the Department of Medicine

Herpes Viruses

Herpes Virus

Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1, HSV-2), Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV), and Human Herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6)

What are HSV-1 and 2?

HSV-1 is one of the eight members of the Human Herpesvirus family. HSV-1 is more commonly known for causing oral herpes or cold sores of the mouth, though it can infect the skin or mucous membrane of the mouth or genitals. The blisters caused by HSV-1 are due to a reactivation of the virus. HSV-1 is transmitted through contact of an infected area. Most individuals orally contract HSV-1 during childhood. HSV-2 is one the of the eight member of the Human Herpesvirus family. Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2. Like HSV-1, HSV-2 is transmitted through contact of an infected area. HSV-2 infection can be transmitted to neonates intrauterine, intrapartum, or most commonly postpartum. Both HSV-1 and 2 will remain in the host for the host's entire life.

What is EBV?

EBV is one of the eight members of the Human Herpesvirus family, also known as human herpesvirus 4. It is a virus that nearly everyone gets before adulthood. It is transmitted through saliva. If one contracts it as an adolescent, it can lead to infectious mononucleosis, described by sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue. The virus lives in its host for the host’s entire life. EBV has been linked to some rare cancers, and can lead to infection in patients with weakened immune systems (such as organ transplant or HIV patients).

What is HCMV?

HCMV is one of the eight members of the human herpesvirus family, also known as human herspesvirus 5. Approximately 50-80% of U.S. adults have HCMV. Many people experience no symptoms when they contract the virus, but it can cause infectious mononucleosis, described by fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.  The virus lives in its host for the host’s entire life. It can cause life-threatening illness in patients with weakened immune systems (such as organ transplant or HIV patients).

What is HHV-6?

HHV-6 is one of the eight members of the Human Herpesvirus family. It is a virus that nearly everyone gets in childhood. Many children experience no symptoms when they get the virus, but about 10% develop a fever and a rash (known as exanthem subitum, or roseola infantum). The virus lives in its host for the host’s entire life. It is possible that it can be reactivated, but even if reactivated, many people never experience symptoms. However, if the virus is reactivated in people with weakened immune systems (such as organ transplant or HIV patients), it can cause severe disease. HHV-6 has been associated with CFS as well as with other diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Fibromyalgia, and temporal lobe epilepsy.

 

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