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Clinical course and spectrum of intensive care unit patients reactivating herpes simplex-1 virus: A retrospective analysis

Author(s): Sundar Krishna | Ludwig Karl | Alward William | Pearce Michael | Bishop Clark | Hammond Roy | Hillyard David | Freestone Steven | Ozment Anne | Cahill Barbara

Journal: Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine
ISSN 0972-5229

Volume: 12;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 145;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Herpes simplex-1 virus | pneumonia | viral | ventilator associated

Background : Herpes simplex-1 virus (HSV-1) reactivation in the respiratory tract is common in intensive care unit (ICU) patients. However, susceptible ICU populations are poorly defined. Clinical recognition of HSV infection of the respiratory tract is difficult and the impact of such reactivation is not understood. Materials and Methods : A retrospective analysis of HSV-1 positive patients encountered over a 5-year period at a multispecialty ICU was carried out. HSV-1 was identified in respiratory secretions using a qualitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. Patient charts were reviewed for clinical features that would typify HSV-1 respiratory involvement, and the morbidity and mortality risks found with HSV-1 respiratory involvement. Results : A review of 48 HSV-1 positive ICU patients showed that patients reactivating HSV in the respiratory tract fell into one of the three categories: (1) septic elderly patients with and without ARDS, (2) immunosuppressed patients, especially those receiving high-dose steroids, and (3) post-thoracotomy patients. Abnormalities suggestive of HSV-1 reactivation in the respiratory tract included, haemorrhagic or excessive respiratory secretions, concomitant orofacial herpes (42%), and bronchoscopic abnormalities (hemorrhagic ulcers and mucosal friability) (83%). Twenty eight percent of the HSV-1 infected patients experienced postextubation stridor. HSV-1 reactivation was associated with extended ventilator stays, significant mortality (42%), and ventilator-associated pneumonias (52%). Conclusions : Identification of susceptible populations and definition of clinical features of HSV-1 related respiratory disease can enable diagnosis of HSV-1 infection in ICU patients. Although detection by a PCR technique can rapidly diagnose HSV-1 reactivation, prospective studies are required to clarify HSV disease versus mere shedding, and understand the impact of HSV-1 reactivation in hospitalized patients.
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