Primary human herpesvirus 7 infection: a comparison of human herpesvirus 7 and human herpesvirus 6 infections in children

J Pediatr. 1998 Sep;133(3):386-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(98)70275-6.


Objective: To define the clinical and virologic characteristics of primary human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7) infection and to compare these characteristics with those of primary human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) infection.

Study design: A prospective convenience sample study of 496 children < or =3 years old. HHV-7 and HHV-6 infections were identified by viral isolation. Polymerase chain reaction and serology for HHV-7 and HHV-6 were performed. Clinical and laboratory characteristics of patients were obtained from medical records and follow-up interviews.

Results: Children with primary HHV-7 infection (n = 8) were identified and compared with children with primary HHV-6 infection (n = 29) detected during the same time period. All children were febrile (mean temperature 39.8 degrees C) with no difference in the degree of fever, frequency of rash, or gastrointestinal complications between the groups. The median age of children with primary HHV-7 infection was 26 months, significantly older than that of children with primary HHV-6 infection (median, 9 months). Children with primary HHV-7 infection were also more likely than those with primary HHV-6 infection to have seizures associated with the illness (P = .004).

Conclusion: Primary infection with HHV-7 can cause a highly febrile illness in childhood, complicated by seizures. The serologic diagnosis of primary HHV-6 and HHV-7 infections may be confounded by cross-reacting antibodies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross Reactions
  • Diarrhea / physiopathology
  • Exanthema / physiopathology
  • Fever / physiopathology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Herpesviridae Infections / diagnosis
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / physiopathology*
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human* / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human* / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human* / isolation & purification
  • Herpesvirus 7, Human* / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 7, Human* / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 7, Human* / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Vomiting / physiopathology


  • Antibodies, Viral