Infectious Diseases

The Link between Torque Teno Virus Ttv and Hepatitis



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The Torque teno virus (TTV) is a virus of the family Anelloviridae. Also known as Transfusion Transmitted Virus, it is implicated in the liver disease hepatitis although the details of this link are not established. The virus doesn’t appear to cause any symptoms of its own. But hepatitis can lead to symptoms such as jaundice and anorexia and can be deadly. There is still much research to be done on the routes of transmission of TTV, its effects, and a drug to neutralise it.

Hepatitis is a very damaging liver disease in humans and various animals. It can be caused in a variety of ways. One possibility is that a toxin has been introduced into the person’s system. The most common such toxin being alcohol in dangerous amounts. This is certainly the most familiar cause of the condition and kills many people each year. There could also be an autoimmune system problem or some non-viral infection. But many viruses are implicated in causing hepatitis and the TTV is one of them. 

The disease involves the liver of the infected person becoming inflamed. Some cases of hepatitis show no symptoms. But jaundice, anorexia, and loss of appetite could occur. There could also be excretions such as vomiting and diarrhoea as well as nausea and fever. In the worst cases the inflammation could cause a scarring of the liver tissue known as fibrosis or the potentially deadly condition cirrhosis.

The torque teno virus didn’t turn up on the radar until 1997 when it was first spotted by a Japanese team of researchers. Since then it has become apparent that the virus is alarmingly common in human beings. In some cases there are countries where all of the available blood donors there are infected with the viruses. Even in countries in the developed world, such as the UK and the USA, it may be that up to 10 percent of the available blood donors are carriers of the torque teno virus.

With these figures it was reasonable to wonder whether the disease is only passed on via blood transfusions; and the disease even became known as transfusion transmitted virus. But research has shown that the virus is also to be found in samples from the infected patient such as faeces, plasma, and saliva. So it may be that there are multiple routes by which transmission of the torque teno virus could be passed on between human beings.

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