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Am J Clin Pathol. 1991 Aug;96(2):171-6.

Fulminant childhood hemophagocytic syndrome mimicking histiocytic medullary reticulosis. An atypical form of Epstein-Barr virus infection.

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Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Republic of China.


Ten cases of pediatric fulminant hemophagocytic syndrome, encountered between 1986 and 1989, are described. They occurred in the summer, and the patients presented with fever, jaundice, hepatosplenomegaly, pancytopenia, coagulopathy, and abnormal liver function. Bone marrow studies revealed infiltration by atypical T-lymphoid cells, rare B immunoblasts, and mature histiocytes with hemophagocytosis. Initially, histiocytic medullary reticulosis was suspected in six cases. The clinical course was characterized by rapid deterioration, with a mean period of 16 days from onset of fever to death. The main causes of death were coagulopathy with multiple organ failure and opportunistic infection. In seven of eight cases studied by serologic assay and Southern blot hybridization, acute or active Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection was documented. It is suggested that an atypical or fulminant form of primary EBV infection distinct from classic infectious mononucleosis was prevalent in previously healthy children in Taiwan. Younger age involvement and seasonal clustering were characteristic of the disorder described.

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