With over ninety-five percent of the adult population infected with human herpesviruses (HHVs), the need for prevention and treatment is paramount. Formulating a vaccine is difficult because there are eight known strains of the virus and saliva appears to be the most prominent mode of transmission.
In the study valacyclovir, an antiviral drug, was administered to one-hundred and twenty-five random patients twice on the day of dental treatment and twice the day after. Saliva samples were collected on the day of treatment and three and seven days following and tested for HHVs. It was determined that dental treatment did not affect asymptomatic viral presence, but treatment with valacyclovir did keep levels of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) strain low at both postoperative visits. EBV, the virus that causes mononucleosis, is one of the most common and highly contagious human viruses found in people of all ages.
"These results suggest that HHVs are simultaneously present in the saliva of healthy adults at levels that could facilitate transmission, and valacyclovir therapy decreases the prevalence of EBV in saliva but has little effect on HHV-6 and HHV-7," say the researchers.
(C.S. Miller, S.A. Avdiushko, R.J. Kryscio, R.J. Danaher, R.J. Jacob. 2005. Effect of prophylactic valacyclovir on the presence of human herpesvirus DNA in saliva of healthy individuals after dental treatment. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 43. 5: 2173-2180.)