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Inherited virus can cause cognitive dysfunction and fatigue
Date:7/26/2013

Tampa, FL (July 25, 2013) -- Many experts believe that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has several root causes including some viruses. Now, lead scientists Shara Pantry, Maria Medveczky and Peter Medveczky of the University of South Florida's Morsani College of Medicine, along with the help of several collaborating scientists and clinicians, have published an article in the Journal of Medical Virology suggesting that a common virus, Human Herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), is the possible cause of some CFS cases.

Over 95 percent of the population is infected with HHV-6 by age 3, but in those with normal immune systems the virus remains inactive. HHV-6 causes fever and rash (or roseola) in infants during early childhood, and is spread by saliva. In immunocompromised patients, it can reactivate to cause neurological dysfunction, encephalitis, pneumonia and organ failure.

"The good news reported in our study is that antiviral drugs improve the severe neurological symptoms, including chronic pain and long-term fatigue, suffered by a certain group of patients with CFS," said Dr. Medveczky, who is a professor of molecular medicine at USF Health and the study's principal investigator. "An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 patients with this CFS-like disease in the United States alone may ultimately benefit from the application of this research including antiviral drug therapy."

The link between HHV-6 infection and CFS is quite complex. After the first encounter, or "primary infection," all nine known human herpesviruses become silent, or "latent," but may reactivate and cause diseases upon immunosuppression or during aging. A previous study from the Medveczky laboratory showed that HHV-6 is unique among human herpesviruses; during latency, its DNA integrates into the structures at the end of chromosomes known as telomeres.

Furthermore, this integrated HHV-6 genome can be inherited from parent to child, a condition commonly referred to as "chr
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3303
University of South Florida (USF Health)
Source:Eurekalert

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