Researchers have become increasingly interested in the torque teno virus (TTV) over recent years. This is because of the possible link that has been found between the virus and the development of hepatitis in a patient. In particular transmission of the virus is thought to occur during a blood transfusion, leading to it also being called Transfusion Transmitted Virus. But this is only one factor in the development of hepatitis and researchers need further work to discover all the factors involved.
TTV is a relatively new addition to the list of viruses that can infect human beings. It was first spotted by researchers in Japan in 1997. But it turns out to be a very common disease indeed. It is thought that as many as one in ten blood donors in the USA and UK have TTV. But in some countries the situation is far worse, with 100 percent of blood donors being infected by it.
As far as researchers can tell the torque teno virus in human beings does not, in itself, lead to any symptoms becoming apparent. However, many people with the liver disease hepatitis also have TTV. So the suggestion is that the torque teno virus plays some part in the contraction of hepatitis. Certainly there are a variety of viruses that are known to cause hepatitis as well as other causes such as toxins including alcohol, and various other infections and immune system problems.
Hepatitis comes in forms known as A, B, and C with differing degrees of severity. The disease involves the inflammation of the liver. In some cases it is self-limiting. But it can potentially lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis, and can ultimately be fatal. Some people with hepatitis are asymptomatic. Some of the symptoms that might appear include jaundice, malaise, loss of appetite, and anorexia. Other symptoms could appear such as diarrhoea and vomiting as well as fever and nausea.
There is no treatment yet for the torque teno virus itself. But research will presumably turn up an anti-viral drug targeted at it eventually. But researchers are still working on the pathology of the virus. There is no indication of what precisely the virus is doing in the patient’s body in relation to hepatitis. It is also not known whether the virus only spreads via blood transfusions or whether other routes are possible. Viral particles have been found in other material such as saliva and faeces, which may indicate other routes.