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December 2001

Human Papillomavirus Type 7 and Butcher's Warts

Arch Dermatol. 2001;137(12):1655-1656. doi:

Meffert and Anthony1 in the March issue of the ARCHIVES proposed that the established dogma about human papillomavirus type 7 (HPV-7) as the "butcher's wart" virus should be reassessed since HPV-7 is not the only HPV type found in butchers and meat handlers, and since HPV-2 is even the most common type.

We found HPV-7–induced warts in one third of the hand warts in butchers, besides all other types of HPVs responsible for common and plane warts (HPV-1, HPV-2, HPV-3, and HPV-4).2 The most frequent infection was with HPV-2 and HPV-2–related viruses,2 as also found usually in warts of immunocompetent and immunosuppressed population, in both children and adults.3 From the restriction patterns of viral DNA published in a 1981 article by Orth et al,2 it can be deducted that viruses considered as HPV-2–related (HPV-2c) or HPV-3–related (HPV-3f, HPV-3g) corresponded to HPV-27, HPV-10, and HPV-28, respectively. Human papillomavirus type 7 was associated with a highly characteristic histologic pattern.2,4 Several types of warts often coexisted in butchers, and their prevalence differed depending on work automation, and reached 49.2 % in abattoirs where the workers had direct contact with the meat.5 Although found almost exclusively in butcher's warts, HPV-7 is probably an ubiquitous virus, as all other HPV genotypes, and is present in a latent form in the general population. All later reports confirmed the exclusive association of HPV-7 with butchers' and meat handlers' warts,6,7 with single exceptions in immunosuppressed people,8 in whom all types of warts may appear, including those induced by epidermodysplasia verruciformis-associated HPVs. Human papillomavirus type 7 is firmly established as a human HPV type with no homology with bovine papillomavirus DNA sequences,2,9 and not originating from slaughtered animals.6

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