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Annales de Biologie Clinique

Un cas mortel de méningoencéphalite à Herpes simplex virus chez un adulte immunocompétent Volume 61, numéro 5, Septembre 2003

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  • Author(s): L.Andréoletti, M.Bouscambert, V.Pichenot, V.Brodard, J.Cousson, A.Léon , Laboratoire de virologie, Service de microbiologie, Centre hospitalier universitaire de Reims landreolettichu-reims.fr. Université Champagne-Ardenne, Faculté de médecine de Reims, IFR53/EA3309. Unité de réanimation polyvalente, Département d’anesthésie et de réanimation, Hôpital Robert Debré, Centre hospitalier universitaire de Reims
  • Key words: acyclovir, Herpes simplex virus, encephalitis, PCR
  • Page(s) : 585-8
  • Published in: 2003

Management of herpes simplex virus encephalitis (HSE) has been considerably improved by the development of rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays and by the use of intravenous acyclovir. However, an absence of early antiviral treatment has been associated to a poor outcome in patients with HSE. In the present report, we described the case of a 53 years-old adult immucompetent patient who was admitted to the emergency department of university medical center of Reims (France). At the time of hospitalisation, he was suffering from a febrile encephalitis syndrome evolving for more than 24 hours. A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) puncture was performed demonstrating the presence of a lymphocytic meningitidis (42 leukocytes/mm 3 which 90% of mononuclear cells; CSF protein = 1650 mg/L) associated with high levels of interferon alpha (75 UI/mL). Specific herpesvirus PCR and hybridisation assays (Herpes Consensus Hybridowell TM, Argene, France) were positive for the detection of HSV-1 genome on this CSF sample. Despite the intravenous acyclovir treatment (15 mg/kg/8 hours) delivered at the time of hospitalisation, this immunocompetent adult patient will dead 15 days later by a cardio-respiratory failure that was related to extensive HSE lesions. The time delay between the beginning of the clinical syndrome and the instauration of intravenous acyclovir treatment (more than 24 hours) was the only point susceptible to explain the presence of extensive CNS lesions in this patient. Specific Herpesvirus PCR detection assays are powerful tools that are actually used to establish a rapid etiological diagnosis of viral meningo-encephalitis. However, in patients demonstrating clinical signs of encephalitis associated with an aseptic CSF, it remains essential to urgently initiate a presumptive intravenous acyclovir treatment (10-15 mg/kg/8 hours). Actually, this medical practice is the only one susceptible to reduce the morbi-mortality rates linked to HSE.