November 01, 2009
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Herpes simplex virus viremia may be associated with high mortality rates

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Mortality rates associated with herpes simplex virus may be as high as 60% in immunocompromised patients and 30% in immunocompetent patients, according to findings of a recent study.

Although causality has not been determined for mortality rates, associations between herpes simplex virus (HSV) viremia and a variety of comorbidities also were observed.

The retrospective study involved an analysis of blood samples for quantification of HSV DNA from October 2001 through June 2006. The researchers evaluated medical records of patients with detectable HSV DNA for relevant clinical characteristics.

HSV DNA was detected in 38 of 951 samples (4%) taken from 29 patients. Nineteen of those 29 patients (66%) were aged older than 16 years.

HSV typing data were available for 10 patients, six of whom had HSV-2, three of whom had HSV-1 and one of whom had evidence of HSV-1 and HSV-2 coinfection.

Antiviral medications were given to all 13 patients with viremia.

The most common clinical findings included hepatitis (62%), fever (54%), central nervous system alterations (46%), skin lesions (38%), abdominal pain (31%) and sepsis (31%). Respiratory failure was reported in 23% of patients.

Six of 10 immunocompromised patients and one of three immunocompetent patients with HSV viremia died.

Berrington WR. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;49:1295-1301.