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Medicine (Baltimore). 2006 Sep;85(5):278-87.

Respiratory viral infections in adults with hematologic malignancies and human stem cell transplantation recipients: a retrospective study at a major cancer center.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control and Employee Health, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Community respiratory viruses (CRVs) have been recognized as a potential cause of pneumonia and death among hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) recipients and patients with hematologic malignancies. We reviewed the Microbiology Laboratory records dated from July 1, 2000, to June 30, 2002, to identify patients who had respiratory specimens positive for influenza, parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial virus, or picornavirus. We identified 343 infections among patients with underlying hematologic malignancies and HSCT. We collected data on type of disease, age, sex, type of infection, neutrophil and lymphocyte counts, therapy, and outcome. Influenza, parainfluenza, and respiratory syncytial virus accounted for most cases and were approximately equal in frequency. Most infections occurred predominantly among recipients of allogeneic transplants. Infection progressed to pneumonia in 119 patients (35%) and occurred with similar frequency for the 3 viruses. Patients at greatest risk for developing pneumonia included those with leukemia, those aged more than 65 years, and those with severe neutropenia or lymphopenia. Lack of respiratory syncytial virus-directed antiviral therapy (p=0.025) and age (p=0.042) were associated with development of respiratory syncytial virus pneumonia, and an absolute lymphocyte count<or=200 cells/mL (p=0.049) was associated with development of influenza pneumonia. The overall mortality rate for CRV pneumonia was 15%. The only independent predictor of fatal outcome was an absolute lymphocyte count<or=200 cells/mL (p=0.03) in patients with influenza pneumonia.HSCT recipients and patients with hematologic malignancies who develop upper respiratory infection due to CRVs should be considered for antiviral therapy of proven efficacy to reduce the risk of pneumonia and death.

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