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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2000 Apr;25(7):751-5.

Respiratory syncytial virus upper respiratory tract illnesses in adult blood and marrow transplant recipients: combination therapy with aerosolized ribavirin and intravenous immunoglobulin.

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Department of Medical Specialties, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an important cause of serious respiratory illness in blood and marrow transplant (BMT) recipients. In some subsets of these immunocompromised patients, RSV upper respiratory illnesses frequently progress to fatal viral pneumonia. The frequency of progression to pneumonia is higher during the pre-engraftment than during the post-engraftment period. Once pneumonia develops, the overall mortality is 60-80%, regardless of the treatment strategy. We performed a pilot trial of therapy of RSV upper respiratory illnesses using aerosolized ribavirin and IVIG (500 mg/kg every other day), with the goal of preventing progression to pneumonia and death. Two dosages of ribavirin were used: a conventional regimen (6 g/day at 20 mg/ml for 18 h/day) and a high-dose short-duration regimen (6 g/day at 60 mg/ml for 2 h every 8 h). Fourteen patients were treated for a mean of 13 days (range: 7-23 days). In 10 (71%) patients, the upper respiratory illness resolved. The other four (29%) patients, three of whom were in the pre-engraftment period, developed pneumonia, which was fatal in two. The most common adverse effect was psychological distress at being isolated within a scavenging tent. In conclusion, prompt therapy of RSV upper respiratory illnesses in BMT recipients with a combination of aerosolized ribavirin and IVIG was a safe and promising approach to prevent progression to pneumonia and death.

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