Molluscum contagiosum virus

Molluscum contagiosum virus
EM of Molluscum contagiosum viruses
Virus classification
Group: Group I (dsDNA)
Family: Poxviridae
Genus: Molluscipoxvirus
Species: Molluscum contagiosum virus

The Molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) is a species of virus in the poxvirus family, which causes the disease Molluscum contagiosum in humans. Virions have a complex structure and is consistent with the structure of the poxvirus family: a surface membrane, a core, and lateral bodies. Virus may be contained within inclusion bodies and mature by budding through the membrane of the host cell giving rise to a large amount of viral shedding in a short period of time. Approximate measurements of the virus are 200 nm in diameter, 320 nm in length and 100 nm in height.[1]

High magnification micrograph of molluscum contagiosum, showing the characteristic molluscum bodies which contain the virus. H&E stain.

Diagnosis is made on the clinical appearance; the virus cannot routinely be cultured. The diagnosis can be confirmed by excisional biopsy. There are 4 types of MCV, MCV-1 to -4. MCV-1 is the most prevalent in human infections, and MCV-2 seen usually in adults and often sexually transmitted.[2][3][4] Polymerase chain reaction techniques are being developed to help confirm lesions as being caused by MCV,[5] and distinguish between strains.[6][7]


The genome is a non-segmented single molecule of linear, double-stranded DNA of 180000–200000 nucleotides. It is covalently linked at both ends and contain redundant, repeating sequences at both ends. 160 putative genes have been identified.[8]

Animal viruses

A poxvirus causes a very similar disease in equids (horses and donkeys).[9][10][11] DNA studies suggest that this virus and the human virus are very closely related.[12]


  1. Büchen-Osmond, C. (Ed) (2003). Molluscum contagiosum virus. In: ICTVdB - The Universal Virus Database, version 3. Büchen-Osmond, C. (Ed), ICTVdB Management, Columbia University, New York, USA
  2. Porter CD, Muhlemann MF, Cream JJ, Archard LC (1987). "Molluscum contagiosum: characterization of viral DNA and clinical features". Epidemiol. Infect. 99 (2): 563–7. doi:10.1017/S0950268800068072. PMC 2249301Freely accessible. PMID 2824227.
  3. Yamashita H, Uemura T, Kawashima M (1996). "Molecular epidemiologic analysis of Japanese patients with molluscum contagiosum". Int. J. Dermatol. 35 (2): 99–105. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4362.1996.tb03270.x. PMID 8850036.
  4. Agromayor M, Ortiz P, Lopez-Estebaranz JL, Gonzalez-Nicolas J, Esteban M, Martin-Gallardo A (2002). "Molecular epidemiology of molluscum contagiosum virus and analysis of the host-serum antibody response in Spanish HIV-negative patients". J. Med. Virol. 66 (2): 151–8. doi:10.1002/jmv.2124. PMID 11782922.
  5. Nuñez A, Funes JM, Agromayor M, et al. (1996). "Detection and typing of molluscum contagiosum virus in skin lesions by using a simple lysis method and polymerase chain reaction". J. Med. Virol. 50 (4): 342–9. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-9071(199612)50:4<342::AID-JMV10>3.0.CO;2-K. PMID 8950692.
  6. Thompson CH (1997). "Identification and typing of molluscum contagiosum virus in clinical specimens by polymerase chain reaction". J. Med. Virol. 53 (3): 205–11. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-9071(199711)53:3<205::AID-JMV4>3.0.CO;2-C. PMID 9365883.
  7. Trama JP, Adelson ME, Mordechai E (2007). "Identification and genotyping of molluscum contagiosum virus from genital swab samples by real-time PCR and Pyrosequencing". J Clin Virol. 40 (4): 325–9. doi:10.1016/j.jcv.2007.09.007. PMID 17997134.
  8. Thompson CH (1999). "Molluscum contagiosum: new perspectives on an old virus". Curr. Opin. Infect. Dis. 12 (3): 185–9. doi:10.1097/00001432-199906000-00005. PMID 17035777.
  9. Van Rensburg IB, Collett MG, Ronen N, Gerdes T (1991) Molluscum contagiosum in a horse. J S Afr Vet Assoc 62(2):72-74
  10. Lange L, Marett S, Maree C, Gerdes T (1991) Molluscum contagiosum in three horses. J S Afr Vet Assoc 62(2):68-71
  11. Cooley AJ, Reinhard MK, Gross TL, Fadok VA, Levy M (1987) Molluscum contagiosum in a horse with granulomatous enteritis. J Comp Pathol 97(1):29-34
  12. Thompson CH, Yager JA, Van Rensburg IB (1998) Close relationship between equine and human molluscum contagiosum virus demonstrated by in situ hybridisation. Res Vet Sci 64(2):157-161
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