In this lab stain, the small orange-spotted cell on the far left shows a nerve cell infected with herpes virus in an animal model.

There are a couple strains of herpes so common that researchers estimate 90% of the human population have them. These strains, human herpes 6 and human herpes 7, usually do not cause severe symptoms when people acquire them. But researchers know that under certain circumstances, dormant herpes viruses in the body can unexpectedly come roaring back and cause complications not typically associated with herpes virus.

Dr. Serge Barcy studies herpes viruses at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. In a paper published in the journal Virology he describes finding the herpes 7 virus hiding in a surprising place: the nervous system of an animal model.

“It’s common to find herpes virus in salivary glands of humans and animals,” Barcy said. “But we found herpes 7 in the nervous system of animal models, which was a surprise because that strain of herpes has not been detected in the nervous system before. We want to understand what it does in the nervous system, if the virus is also in the human nervous system and if it could be associated with nerve diseases.” Read full post »