A lightweight look into a medical mystery: Could human herpes virus 6 (HHV6) be the culprit in numerous serious human
Journalist Regush (ABC News) offers a patchy narrative: profiles of scientific investigators, reflections on the research
process (including politics and funding), some scientific instruction on the ways of viruses, and hair-raising case histories. HHV6
was first identified in 1987 by scientists at the National Cancer Institute; HIV researcher Robert Gallo once suggested that the
virus might be a co-factor speeding up HIV’s attack on the immune system. According to Regush, HHV6 may also be involved
in multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and secondary infections in children with roseola. Regush principally—and
sometimes breathlessly—follows the employment and funding tribulations of Wisconsin researchers Konnie Knox and Donald
Carrigan ("Science was his life, and nothing was more exciting to him than systematically following a set of clues"). He reflects
throughout on the research process: "Baggage that can cripple innovation," he points out, includes "a slavish loyalty to a particular
theory, indebtedness to a sponsor with a stake in research results, and an all-around fear of offending anyone in authority."
Regush has hold of a real story here, but his account, while mildly diverting, is too sketchy and jumbled for all but the most casual reader.