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Chest. 1993 Oct;104(4):1054-8.

Septic shock due to toxoplasmosis in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.

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Department of Infectious Disease, Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital, Paris, France.



To describe the presentation and clinical course of septic shock due to Toxoplasma gondii in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).


From April 1988 to February 1992, nine HIV-infected patients were admitted because of predominant septic shock (7 patients) or developed septic shock in the ICU (2 patients). The recent CD4+ cell count ranged from 2 to 84 x 10(6)/L.


The main clinical features were (1) a history of fever for longer than 15 days, with a recent increase to more than 39.5 degrees C; (2) a recent history of dyspnea (< 15 days, 8 cases; < 7 days, 3 cases); and (3) recent onset of thrombocytopenia (6 of 9 cases). All patients were in shock (hyperkinetic profile in 6 of 7; hypokinetic in 1 of 7), and 8 of 9 were in respiratory distress (ratio of PaO2 over fractional concentration of oxygen in the inspired gas of 117 +/- 23; range, 88 to 155). Chest roentgenograms revealed diffuse alveolar infiltrates in six of nine cases. The serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity was 6,510 +/- 5,080 IU/L (range, 1,010 to 15,450 IU/L). Serologic tests for T gondii were negative in two cases. Toxoplasma gondii was isolated from lung (9/9), bone marrow (5/7), or blood (2/2). One, 3, and 2 patients had brain, ocular, and myocardial involvement, respectively. No other microbial pathogens were isolated. Seven patients died, 5 less than 3 days after admission.


Disseminated toxoplasmosis can cause septic shock in HIV-infected patients. In two cases, the disease was probably a primary infection. The association of high fever, acute dyspnea, recent onset of thrombocytopenia, and a very high level of LDH activity is suggestive of disseminated toxoplasmosis.

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