Human herpes virus type 6 can cause skin lesions at the BCG inoculation site similar to Kawasaki Disease

Tohoku J Exp Med. 2012 Dec;228(4):351-3. doi: 10.1620/tjem.228.351.


Kawasaki Disease (KD) is acute, febrile, multisystem vasculitis of early childhood, the detailed mechanism of which is still unclear. Skin symptoms occur in KD, such as edema of the hands and feet with subsequent desquamation and redness at the inoculation site of bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG). The change at the BCG inoculation site has been considered as a specific feature of KD, although its mechanism is not fully understood. We present an 11-month-old boy who developed fever with redness of the BCG site due to infection with human herpes virus type 6 (HHV6). At the age of 3 months, the patient received BCG. His fever remitted 7 days after the onset of skin redness, with sequential desquamation at the BCG site and extremities, which is not a common feature of HHV6 infection that typically lasts for 3 days. The final diagnosis was exanthema subitum. Characteristically, the HHV6 infection in our patient appeared to be associated with the invigoration of the T cell system, as represented by the elevated serum levels of soluble interleukin-2 receptor (3,490 U/ml vs. normal range 145-519 U/ml). This patient clearly showed redness and crusting at the BCG inoculation site, suggesting that HHV6 infection might cause skin changes similar to those of KD via an unknown mechanism. In addition, we suggest that the activation of the T cell system may account for the skin lesions in KD, characterized by redness and subsequent crusting of the BCG inoculation site and desquamation of the extremities.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibody Specificity
  • BCG Vaccine / adverse effects*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Erythema / etiology*
  • Erythema / immunology
  • Erythema / virology
  • Exanthema Subitum / blood
  • Exanthema Subitum / diagnosis*
  • Exanthema Subitum / immunology
  • Exanthema Subitum / virology
  • Fever / etiology
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Infant
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Mucocutaneous Lymph Node Syndrome / immunology*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / blood
  • Skin / immunology*
  • Skin / pathology
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Vaccination


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • BCG Vaccine
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2