Microbiology and clinical manifestations of Molluscum contagiosum
Individuals infected with Molluscum contagiosum show signs of chronic infections limited to particular parts of the body. The illness is caused by viruses that affect the skin, causing irritation and it advances with time. The individuals suffering from the ailment show raised parts of the skin in the affected areas as this is how the virus manifests itself. Upon treatment, the part that was infected is hardly recognized because the raised parts do not leave scars. In some cases, the individuals may not seek treatment and the raised sections may disappear on their own (Bennett, Dolin, Blaser 20)1. However, for the virus to be inactive, it may take different time ranging from two months to four years depending on the strength of the individual’s immunity. To prevent the illness, personal hygiene is recommended because the illness is mainly spread through contact with contaminated items, such as towels. One may also contract the virus if they have direct contact with infected persons. It is common with human beings of all age groups, but it is mostly observed in people who are involved on unprotected sex and young children. This paper discusses the nature of the virus that causes Molluscum contagiosum and the symptoms and signs that infected individuals show.
Microbiology of Molluscum contagiosum
The virus that causes the disease is referred to as Molluscum contagiosum, and it is only found in human beings. Based on its chemical structure, the virus is classified under the poxvirus, implying that it affects both vertebrate and invertebrate. However, it has only been observed in human beings. The virus has a complex non-segmented structure that contains OPV protein, useful during the replication process. Molluscum contagiosum is disease is communicable through different means such as getting into contact with fomites and having unprotected sex with persons who are infected with the Molluscum contagiosum virus. The incubation period normally ranges between 14 to 42 days, and it mainly targets the outer layer of the skin. The viral infection spreads due to replication of the virus. The cytoplasm of the affected cells plays a primary role in enhancing the spread of the disease. Once the reproduction occurs, a large body of cells known as Molluscum is formed. This is mostly common in the granular layer of the epidermis as well as the thin outer layer. During the replication phase, thecells in the epidermal basal layer increase twice as much due to the rapid cell division, but the process occurs gradually. The chances of being infected with the Molluscum contagiosum virus are determined by personal hygiene as well as the health status of individuals. People who are infected with HIV virus are at a very high risk of being infected with the Molluscum contagiosum virus due to the low immunity in their system. This implies that once they are exposed to the virus, their weak immune system is unable to respond effectively. About 60% of infections in these individuals is caused by the Molluscum contagiosum virus (Thompson et al.8)2. A study involving 29% of HIV positive individuals conducted in Australia indicates that the most common cause of skin infections among the individuals is Molluscum contagiosum 2 (Thompson et al. 3)2. The study also concluded that there is no significant link between the gender if individuals to the disease. This implies that any individual who is exposed to the virus has an equal chance of being infected, except the HIV positive individuals who have higher chances.
Clinical manifestations of Molluscum contagiosum
Clinical manifestations of an illness are the signs that or the symptoms that the infected patients complain about a certain disease. For the Molluscum contagiosum, the clinical manifestations are mainly observable but painless lesions.In the beginning the lesions that are observed on the skin are just minute papules and they may be found in one or two areas of the skin. They may begin as one tiny lesion but in most cases they are more and the number keeps on increasing as the disease advances. The dome-shaped lesions measure between two and five millimeters in diameter. On looking at the papules, one notices that they have a small depression that looks like navel and they have a caseous plug (Chen, Anstey and Bugert 879)3. The diagrams below show how the disease manifests itself differently in different individuals.
In the above image, the individual only suffers from the lesions that are not widespread, but as the disease advances, the lesions increase and it may also cause eczema. The diagram below shows the lesions of an individual who has also developed eczema. Research indicates that about 10% of individuals who are infected withMolluscum contagiosum develop eczema as well (Porter et al. 564)4. Such individuals may show signs such as cracked skin at the infected areas and the akin becomes itchy and dry.
One of the features that distinguish the lesions in the disease is the umblicated nature of the lesions, but this is not always the case. In some instances, the lesions may be large and the umblication may not be well pronounced. This is the case in the diagram below where one develops a large lesion with several molluscum bodies (Murdoch et al. 610)5.
It takes the virus between two and six weeks to manifest itself through the lesions on the skin. This implies that oen may not be aware of the illness until the six weeks. The lesions are not painful and they are firm and dome-shaped. In adults, the manifestation is mostly common on the abdomen and the genitals. To be safe from the Molluscum contagiosum virus, one should avoid sharing personal effects such as towels.
- Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ. Principles and practice of infectious diseases. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2014 Aug 28.
- Thompson CH, Zwart‐Steffe D, Rita T, Biggs IM. Molecular epidemiology of Australian isolates of molluscum contagiosum. Journal of medical virology. 1990 Sep 1;32(1):1-9.
- Chen X, Anstey AV, Bugert JJ. Molluscum contagiosum virus infection. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2013 Oct 31;13(10):877-88.
- Porter CD, Muhlemann MF, Cream JJ, Archard LC. Molluscum contagiosum: characterization of viral DNA and clinical features. Epidemiology and infection. 1987 Oct 1;99(02):563-6.
- Murdoch DM, Venter WD, Feldman C, Van Rie A. Incidence and risk factors for the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome in HIV patients in South Africa: a prospective study. Aids. 2008 Mar 12;22(5):601-10.