Original Research

Human herpes virus type-6 is associated with central nervous system infections in children in Sudan

Nada A. Abdelrahim, Nahla Mohamed, Magnus Evander, Clas Ahlm, Imad M. Fadl-Elmula
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 11, No 1 | a1718 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v11i1.1718 | © 2022 Nada A. Abdelrahim, Nahla Mohamed, Magnus Evander, Clas Ahlm, Imad M. Fadl-Elmula | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 August 2021 | Published: 22 September 2022

About the author(s)

Nada A. Abdelrahim, Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Nile University, Khartoum, Sudan
Nahla Mohamed, Department of Virology, Faculty of Clinical Microbiology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Magnus Evander, Department of Virology, Faculty of Clinical Microbiology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Clas Ahlm, Department of Infection and Immunology, Faculty of Clinical Microbiology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
Imad M. Fadl-Elmula, Department of Pathology and Clinical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Al-Neelain University, Khartoum, Sudan; and, Assafa Academy, Kartoum, Sudan


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Abstract

Background: Human herpes virus type-6 (HHV-6) is increasingly recognised as a febrile agent in children. However, less is known in sub-Saharan African countries, including Sudan.

Objective: We investigated the involvement of HHV-6 in paediatric central nervous system (CNS) infections in Khartoum, Sudan.

Methods: Febrile patients aged up to 15 years with suspected CNS infections at Omdurman Hospital for Children from 01 December 2009 to 01 August 2010 were included. Viral DNA was extracted from leftover cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens and quantitatively amplified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at Umeå University in Sweden.

Results: Of 503 CSF specimens, 13 (2.6%) were positive for HHV-6 (33.0% [13/40 of cases with proven infectious meningitis]). The median thermal cycle threshold for all HHV-6-positive specimens was 38 (range: 31.9–40.8). The median number of virus copies was 281.3/PCR run (1 × 105 copies/mL CSF; range: 30–44 × 103 copies/PCR run [12 × 103 – 18 × 106 copies/mL CSF]). All positive patients presented with fever and vomiting; 86.0% had seizures. The male-to-female ratio was 1:1; 50.0% were toddlers, 42.0% infants and 8.0% teenagers. Most (83.0%) were admitted in the dry season and 17.0% in the rainy season. Cerebrospinal fluid leukocytosis was seen in 33.0%, CSF glucose levels were normal in 86.0% and low in 14.0%, and CSF protein levels were low in 14.0% and high in 43.0%.

Conclusion: Among children in Sudan with CNS infections, HHV-6 is common. Studies on the existence and spread of HHV-6 chromosomal integration in this population are needed.


Keywords

HHV-6; viral neuroinfections; viral meningitis; aseptic meningitis; real-time PCR

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