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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2005 Fall;5(3):252-7.

Rhabdomyolysis in patients with west nile encephalitis and meningitis.

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  • 1Arbovirus Diseases Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.


Since 1999, more than 6,500 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease (WNND) have been reported in the United States. Patients with WNND can present with muscle weakness that is often assumed to be of neurological origin. During 2002, nearly 3,000 persons with WNV meningitis or encephalitis (or both) were reported in the United States; in suburban Cook County, Illinois, with 244 persons were hospitalized for WNV illnesses. The objective of this investigation was to describe the clinical and epidemiological features of identified cases of WNV neuroinvasive disease and rhabdomyolysis. Public health officials investigated patients hospitalized in Cook County, and identified a subset of WNV neuroinvasive disease patients with elevated creatine kinase levels. Cases were defined as hospitalized persons with a WNV infection, encephalitis or meningitis, and rhabdomyolysis. Retrospective medical record reviews were conducted and data was abstracted with a standardized data collection instrument. Eight patients with West Nile encephalitis and one with West Nile meningitis were identified with rhabdomyolysis. Median age of the nine patients was 70 years (range, 45-85 years), and eight were men. For all nine patients, the peak CK level was documented a median of 2 days after hospitalization (range, 1-24 days). Median CK level during hospitalization for all case-patients was 3,037 IU (range, 1,153-42,113 IU). Six patients had history of recent falls prior to admission. Although the temporal relationship of rhabdomyolysis and neurological WNV illness suggested a common etiology, these patients presented with complex clinical conditions which may have led to development of rhabdomyolysis from other causes. The spectrum of WNV disease requires further investigation to describe this and other clinical conditions associated with WNV infection.

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