Respiratory contamination of polymerase chain reactions by human herpesvirus 6

Am J Hematol. 1994 Dec;47(4):325-7. doi: 10.1002/ajh.2830470415.


Human herpesvirus type 6 DNA derived from human breath was discovered to contaminate PCR reactions during routine reaction preparation. Parallel PCR experiments were conducted in which expiratory secretions were blocked by a surgical mask, while others were performed without any attempt to circumvent respiratory contamination. The experimenter was previously determined to harbor HHV-6 DNA in the saliva. All reactions in which expiration was obstructed were negative for HHV-6 DNA via PCR. Reactions in which there was no attempt to obstruct respiratory secretions were positive for HHV-6 DNA. These data suggest that PCR assays investigating the presence of HHV-6 may be highly susceptible to contamination from the experimenter leading to false positive results.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masks
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Respiration
  • Saliva / microbiology


  • Aerosols
  • DNA, Viral