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J Clin Gastroenterol. 1999 Jun;28(4):386-9.

Fulminant herpes hepatitis in a healthy adult: a treatable disorder?

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Universitario San Carlos, Madrid, Spain.


Hepatitis due to herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a potentially fatal disorder that is often not considered in the differential diagnosis of acute hepatitis. This disease occurs most often in patients with impaired immunity and is very uncommon in healthy patients. HSV hepatitis presents with a wide clinical spectrum, and the clinical diagnosis is difficult. We describe a case of disseminated herpes virus infection with fulminant hepatitis mimicking an acute human immunodeficiency virus infection in a 33-year-old healthy man. Preliminary studies suggest that early treatment of HSV hepatitis with acyclovir may be beneficial in these patients. A high index of suspicion and the availability of early diagnostic tools, such as HSV DNA detection, may dramatically improve the clinical outcome of severe HSV hepatitis.

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