Abstract 929 Poster Session IV, Tuesday, 5/4 (poster 169)
Background Infection with some herpesviruses has been reported to occur in early childhood in native children of Canada. Objective To determine the incidence as well as the time of acquisition of Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) in Inuit infants in the first year of life as compared to non-Inuit infants. Methods Healthy Inuit infants from the Canadian arctic (Iqaluit, Nunavut) and non-Inuit infants from Montreal, Canada were enrolled from 1-3 months of age and followed for the first year of life. Blood was drawn on 4 occasions, approximately every 3 months and ELISA assays for the herpesviruses were performed initially on the last blood drawn. If this was positive, ELISAs were performed on all previous specimens to determine the time of infection. Results There were 54 Inuit and 109 non-Inuit infants enrolled in the study and 45 Inuit and 99 non-Inuit infants who completed the study. At least one serological study has been completed on 40 Inuit and 67 non-Inuit infants to date. At the 4th blood drawing period, 37 (93%) Inuit and 15 (22%) of the non-Inuit infants were EBV positive, 22 (55%) Inuit and 6 (9%) non-Inuit infants were CMV positive, and 15 (38%) Inuit and 3 (6%) non-Inuit infants were HSV1 positive. The following table demonstrates the time period which the infants seroconverted during the first year of life with acquisition of infection.
Conclusion Inuit infants were much more likely to be infected with the herpesviruses, EBV, CMV, and HSV in the first year of life compared to non-Inuit infants. The majority of these infections occurred between 4 to 13 months of age. In many cases, the precise time of infection could not be determined, either due to the inability to obtain blood at all 4 time points, or due to the presence of maternal antibody in the first periods. Several of the herpesviruses are potent immunomodulators, and therefore, may affect the development and/or the functional activity of the immune systems of the infected infants.