Clinical correlates of herpes simplex virus type 1 loads in the lowerrespiratory tract of critically ill patients

Clinical correlates of herpes simplex virus type 1 loads in the lowerrespiratory tract of critically ill patients

Clinical correlates of herpes simplex virus type 1 loads in the lowerrespiratory tract of critically ill patients

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The significance of isolation of herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 from the lower respiratory tract in critically ill patients on mechanical ventilation is still unclear. In the current study, we used polymerase chain reaction techniques to quantify HSV-1 to further evaluate its role.

OBJECTIVES:

The hypothesis was that high loads reflect invasive pulmonary disease related to prolonged mechanical ventilation and increased mortality, as opposed to shedding from the upper respiratory tract, which leads to lower viral loads.

STUDY DESIGN:

We prospectively studied 77 consecutive patients admitted to the intensive care unit and analyzed 136 tracheal aspirates or bronchoalveolar lavage fluids, taken when clinically indicated in the diagnostic workup of fever, radiologic pulmonary infiltrates, progressive respiratory insufficiency or combinations. Samples were cultured for bacteria and yeasts according to routine microbiological methods and HSV-1 loads were determined by real time quantitative PCR. Viral loads were expressed per number of cells recovered.

RESULTS:

HSV-1 load was directly related to the simplified acute physiology score II (rs=0.47, P=0.04) when the first specimen taken proved positive for HSV-1. HSV-1 positivity concurred with Candida spp. colonization. Patients with and without a HSV-1 load did not differ with respect to pulmonary and systemic courses and vital outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS:

The data suggest that HSV-1 in the lower respiratory tract originates from shedding in the upper respiratory tract in about 30% ofcritically ill patients, following immune suppression and reactivation, without invasively infecting the lung. No attributable mortality was observed.

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