(HealthDay News) – The roseola virus, human herpesvirus (HHV)-6B and HHV-7, is associated with febrile status epilepticus (FSE), with HHV infection seen in approximately one-third of FSE cases in young children.

Leon G. Epstein, MD, from Northwestern University and the Children’s Memorial Research Center in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 169 children (aged 1 month to 5 years) presenting with FSE. Participants were enrolled within 72 hours and assessed for HHV-6 and HHV-7. Viremia was indicated by the presence of HHV-6A, HHV-6B, or HHV-7 DNA and RNA, determined using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at baseline. PCR results were used in conjunction with antibody titers to differentiate primary infection from reactivated infection.

At baseline, the researchers identified HHV-6B viremia in 54 children (32%). Of these, 38 cases were primary infections and 16 were reactivated infections. HHV-6A infections were not observed in the sample. At baseline, HHV-7 viremia was observed in 12 children (7.1%), of which eight cases were primary infections and four were reactivated infections. Two subjects had primary co-infection of HHV-6/HHV-7 at baseline. For those children presenting with FSE, there were no differences in the age or the nature of illness, regardless of HHV infection status.

“HHV-6B infection is commonly associated with FSE. HHV-7 infection is less frequently associated with FSE. Together, they account for one-third of FSE, a condition associated with an increased risk of both hippocampal injury and subsequent temporal lobe epilepsy,” the authors write.

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