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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Are ASFV-infected Pigs the viral source of HHV-8 related Kaposi's Sarcoma in Sardinia? Is a ASFV-related Kaposi's Sarcoma epidemic possible in Russia where ASFV is spreading?

The world's highest incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma occurs in Sardinia (Reference) Is it possible that it is due to the fact that African Swine Fever Virus is endemic on the island? (Reference) One study suggests that the incidence of K.S. in northern Sardinia is highest in a countryside area where people have contact with animals. (Reference) Given the high prevalence of HHV-8,--the so-called K.S. herpes virus--in Sardinia (Reference) is it at all possible that HHV-8 may have been misclassified and actually is a human-adapted form of African Swine Fever Virus? (ASFV has been at least visually mistaken for another herpes virus, CMV, in the past.)
A number of experiments could be conducted to explore this hypothesis. In addition to a direct comparison of ASFV and HHV-8, pigs with African Swine Fever Virus could be tested for sequences of HHV-8. People with Kaposi's sarcoma could be tested for sequences of African Swine Fever, including new Asfaviridae sequences recently discovered. (Reference) A comparison of the K.S. lesions in humans and ASFV lesions in pigs might be in order.
Given that African Swine Fever is currently spreading in Russia and is now threatening Europe and China, (Reference) it would be useful to know whether people who are exposed to pigs with ASFV are at increased risk for HHV-8, Kaposi's sarcoma and the other pathologies associated with HHV-8. A study in sub-Saharan Africa where ASFV is endemic and HHV-8 is also endemic (Reference) might be useful. And areas of Russia where ASFV is spreading could be monitored closely for any signs of an increase of K.S. or HHV-8 infection and HHV-8 related pathologies.
HHV-8 is an emerging health problem. HHV-8-associated K.S. is a significant problem in AIDS patients. It may also be the key to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. HHV-8 has been found in the cerebrospinal fluid of 50% of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients. (Reference) HHV-8 has been linked to type 2 diabetes. (Reference) HHV-8 has been detected in B-cells in Castleman's disease and primary effusion lymphoma. (Reference).
If HHV-8 is a form of ASFV, it is possible that pigs might constitute a useful animal model for the study of possible treatments for K.S. and other pathologies associated with HHV-8. And if there is any relationship between ASFV and HHV-8, people may have to be warned to take special precautions around pigs in areas where there are ASFV outbreaks. And countries where undercooked pork is consumed (like Ukraine where salo is a staple) may need to alert the public to cook all pork products thoroughly during ASFV epidemics.

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