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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2018 Nov 1;73(11):3162-3169. doi: 10.1093/jac/dky311.

Leukopenia and lack of ribavirin predict poor outcomes in patients with haematological malignancies and respiratory syncytial virus infection.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control and Employee Health, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.



Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection causes morbidity and mortality in cancer patients. However, studies describing this infection in patients with haematological malignancies are scarce. We sought to evaluate the clinical impact of RSV infection on this patient population.


We reviewed the records of patients with haematological malignancies and RSV infections cared for at our institution between January 2000 and March 2013.


Of the 181 patients, 71 (39%) had AML, ALL or myelodysplastic syndrome, 12 (7%) had CML or CLL, 4 (2%) had Hodgkin lymphoma, 35 (19%) had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 59 (33%) had multiple myeloma. Most patients [117 (65%)] presented with an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and 15 (13%) had a subsequent lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI). The overall LRTI rate was 44% and the 90 day mortality rate was 15%. Multivariable regression analysis showed that having both neutropenia and lymphocytopenia (adjusted OR = 7.17, 95% CI = 1.94-26.53, P < 0.01) and not receiving ribavirin-based therapy during RSV URTI (adjusted OR = 0.03; 95% CI = 0.01-0.11, P < 0.001) were independent risk factors for LRTI. Having both neutropenia and lymphocytopenia at RSV diagnosis was also a risk factor for death at 90 days after RSV diagnosis (adjusted OR = 4.32, 95% CI = 1.24-15.0, P = 0.021).


Patients with haematological malignancies and RSV infections, especially those with immunodeficiency, may be at risk of LRTI and death; treatment with ribavirin during RSV URTI may prevent these outcomes.


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