Are there any known viruses that have managed to infect all of humankind either in the past or presently, either benign or otherwise?

  • $\begingroup$ Could mitochondria, ancestrally the result of a bacterial infection, be included? $\endgroup$ – James Jan 16 '15 at 14:56
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    $\begingroup$ Quick answer: yes. Research human endogenous retroviruses for more information. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Jan 16 '15 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ Do ERVs count? None of the HERVs are functional viruses(anymore). And they didn't need to infect 100% of humanity to cross over, so they may not have. On the other hand, does gut microflora count? There are lots of those, even if they don't infect human cells there's probably one that's inhabited 100% of humans at one time or another. $\endgroup$ – Resonating Jan 16 '15 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ You mean to say some virus that everyone has got infected with at one point of time or the other. I don't understand the point of this question. Even for a common infection like viral cold, there can exist people who have not contracted the disease. @MattDMo are ERVs same as retrotransposons? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jan 17 '15 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ This shouldn't be closed - I found the answer. The HHV-6 family of herpes viruses infects almost all humans by the age of 2. Thankfully, it's generally a commensal and negative health effects from it are rare. See hhv-6foundation.org/what-is-hhv-6 $\endgroup$ – user1258361 Oct 19 '18 at 17:48

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