Human herpesvirus 6 rhombencephalitis in immunocompetent children

J Child Neurol. 2007 Nov;22(11):1260-8. doi: 10.1177/0883073807307086.


This article describes the clinical presentation, diagnostic workup, and neurologic outcome of 3 immunocompetent pediatric patients diagnosed with human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6) rhombencephalitis. Presentation of HHV6 rhombencephalitis included new onset seizures, ataxia, encephalopathy, and opsoclonus-myoclonus. Neurologic examination revealed cranial neuropathies, cerebellar dysfunction, and extremity weakness. Magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities located in the cerebellum, basal ganglia/thalamus, and cerebral hemispheres were detected in 2 patients. Diagnosis of HHV6 encephalitis was made by real-time and nested polymerase chain reaction of serum and cerebrospinal fluid. The HHV6 variant A was detected in 2 patients by sequence analysis, and HHV6 protein was detected by immunomicroscopy in a patient who underwent biopsy secondary to progressive clinical and neuroradiographic findings. Therapy with intravenous ganciclovir did not correlate with resolution of neurologic symptoms, despite eventual non-detectable HHV6. Human herpesvirus 6 should be considered in the differential diagnosis of unexplained cases of rhombencephalitis in immunocompetent children. Features may be rapidly progressive and include profound encephalopathy, seizures, ataxia, and opsoclonus-myoclonus.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex / pathology*
  • Encephalitis, Herpes Simplex / virology*
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / isolation & purification
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompetence*
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Rhombencephalon / virology*