Because viral replication depends on the vigour of its host, many viruses have evolved incentives of fitness to pay their keep. When the viral host is a human pathogen, these fitness factors can surface as virulence: creating a Russian doll of pathogenesis where pathogens within pathogens complicate the disease process. Microbial viruses can even be independently immunogenic, as we recently reported for leishmania-virus. Thus, the incidence of this 'hyperpathogenism' is becoming an important clinical consideration and by appreciating the microbial-virus as a backseat driver of human disease, we could exploit its presence as a diagnostic biomarker and molecular target for therapeutic intervention. Here we discuss the prevalence of clinically relevant hyperpathogenism as well as the environmental sanctuaries that breed it.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.