Antibodies to Herpesvirus hominis (HVH) types 1 and 2 were determined by a micro-neutralisation method in 37 children with kwashiorkor, 16 with marasmus, and in 64 well-nourished control children. All the children were aged between 1 and 4 years. The prevalence of antibodies was similar in the two sexes and at different ages. HVH-1 antibodies were present in 51% of children with kwashiorkor, in 44% with marasmus, and in 26% of well-nourished children, reflecting the very poor socioeconomic conditions of malnourished children. HVH-2 antibodies too were present in about 19% of children with kwashiorkor, and in 2% of well-nourished controls; they were absent in marasmic children. It is suggested that HVH-2 infection in malnourished children is facilitated by the communal use of fomites--such as bedclothes and underwear.
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