Coxsackie B Viruses and Human Heart Disease

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Abstract

A large number of viruses can cause infections of the heart. Among these are the enteroviruses, adenoviruses, retroviruses and even orthomyxoviruses (Clements 1993). Human viruses causing systemic infections have a viremic stage during which the heart may be exposed to infectious agents. Thus the presence of virus in the myocytes or the infiltrating immune cells is likely to be a more common event than suspected. However, clinically overt cases of heart disease following common viral infections are rare and may represent a small percentage of all viral heart infections. Of the numerous agents commonly infecting humans, enteroviruses and in particular coxsackie B viruses (CVB) have been the most closely scrutinised agents implicated in human heart disease. The aim of this review is to discuss the evidence for an etiologic link between enteroviruses and in particular CVB and human heart disease.