BACKGROUND: Primary human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7) infection occurs almost universally during the first 5 years of life and is rarely accompanied by central nervous system (CNS) symptoms such as febrile seizures. The present retrospective study investigated the role of primary HHV-7 infection in CNS disease in children, including adolescents.
METHODS: The study included all children who had neurologic disease aged younger than 18 years seen at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada, between April 1, 1998 and December 31, 2011, whose cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was found by polymerase chain reaction to contain HHV-7 DNA. Where sera were available, HHV-7 IgG antibody titers and avidity were measured to differentiate primary from past infection.
RESULTS: HHV-7 DNA was detected in the CSF of 57 (1.9%) of the 2972 children tested. In 3 adolescents primary HHV-7 infection (low avidity IgG) was confirmed as the cause of neurologic disease, 2 who had encephalitis and 1 who had Guillain-Barré syndrome. Eighteen children had possible HHV-7 disease (no alternative cause identified and indeterminate antibody result or serum not available), 7 encephalitis, 8 meningitis, and 3 demyelinating disorders. HHV-7 disease was excluded in 36 children on the basis of past infection (high IgG avidity) and/or an alternative cause.
CONCLUSIONS: Primary HHV-7 infection delayed into adolescence can cause serious neurologic disease. HHV-7 DNA in CSF alone is insufficient to prove an etiologic association. Combining CSF polymerase chain reaction with serology is essential to prove primary infection when investigating HHV-7 CNS disease.
- Accepted March 18, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics