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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 Sep;38(8):697-704.

Herpes simplex hepatitis in adults: a search for muco-cutaneous clues.

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Emory University Hospital, Department of Pathology, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Herpes simplex hepatitis is a treatable cause of acute hepatitis with a high mortality (41% to 79%). We present 4 adult patients who died of herpes simplex hepatitis and review another 70 patients (including pregnant women) from the literature to illustrate that herpes simplex hepatitis was only considered in the differential diagnosis in 26% to 33% of patients even though muco-cutaneous involvement was present in at least 70% of these patients. The presence of muco-cutaneous lesions in a patient with clinical symptoms and biochemical findings of acute hepatitis should raise the suspicion of herpes simplex hepatitis. Prompt treatment with acyclovir can be initiated within hours of admission in an attempt to prevent further hepatocellular damage in this potentially life-threatening infection.

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