Background: Several new polyomaviruses have been discovered in the last decade, including Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV). Little is known about the natural history of the more recently discovered polyomaviruses. We estimated the incidence, prevalence, and persistence of 9 polyomaviruses (MCPyV, BK polyomavirus, KI polyomavirus, JC polyomavirus, WU polyomavirus, Human polyomavirus 6 [HPyV6], HPyV7, HPyV9, and Trichodysplasia spinulosa-associated polyomavirus) and examined factors associated with MCPyV infection in a prospective cohort of 209 men initially enrolled in the HPV Infection in Men (HIM) study.
Methods: Participants enrolled at the US site of the HIM study were recruited into a substudy of cutaneous viral infections and followed for a median of 12.6 months. Eyebrow hair and normal skin swab specimens were obtained at each study visit, and the viral DNA load was measured using multiplex polymerase chain reaction.
Results: MCPyV infection showed the highest prevalence (65.1% of normal skin swab specimens and 30.6% of eyebrow hair specimens), incidence (81.7 cases per 1000 person-months among normal skin swab specimens, and 24.1 cases per 1000 person-months among eyebrow hair specimens), and persistence (85.8% of normal skin swab specimens and 58.9% of eyebrow hair specimens) among all polyomaviruses examined. Age of >44 years (odds ratio [OR], 2.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-4.33) and Hispanic race (OR, 2.64; 95% CI, 1.01-6.88) were associated with an increased prevalence of MCPyV infection in eyebrow hair and normal skin swab specimens, respectively.
Conclusion: MCPyV infection is highly prevalent in adults, with age and race being predisposing factors.
Keywords: eyebrow hair; natural history; polyomavirus; skin swabs.
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