Nosocomial Herpes Simplex Virus Infection Associated with Oral Endotracheal Intubation.

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BACKGROUND: To determine by culture the frequency of herpes simplex virus reactivation complicating oral endotracheal intubation. Additionally, clinical appearance and recognition of patient infection by attendant health care workers were studied. Last, evidence of any occupational acquisition of herpes simplex virus infection was sought.

METHODS: In a prospective, non-randomized study, three serial viral cultures were taken of oro-facial or mucosal sites on the day of oral endotracheal intubation and in the subsequent 3rd and 5th or 7th days from 51 consecutive adults undergoing oral endotracheal intubation in a suburban community hospital. Clinical variables including appearances of lesions and therapeutic interventions were noted during serial assessments by study authors. Employee health records were reviewed for evidence of health care worker occupational herpes simplex virus infection associated with these cases.

RESULTS: Of 51 patients, 4 were culture positive on the day of oral endotracheal intubation. Of the remaining 47 patients, serial cultures during the first week post intubation revealed herpes simplex virus in 25 (53.2%) patients. Of cohort variables studied, a history of prior oral herpes simplex virus was significantly associated with a subsequent positive viral culture for herpes simplex virus (relative risk, 2.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.48 to 3.56). Typical or atypical lesions were visible in only 52% of the herpes simplex virus culture-positive cases. No occupational transmission of herpes simplex virus was detected. Tape-securing practices appeared to contribute to the morbidity of herpes simplex virus eruptions.

CONCLUSIONS: Nosocomial reactivation of herpes simplex virus infection complicated oral endotracheal intubation in our patient population in approximately one half of the patients who were intubated for more than 48 hours during the first week after the procedure. Clinically, the infection was recognizable in only one half of the virus culture-positive cases. Increased awareness of this infection is needed by health care workers, patients, and families. More information is needed on optimal therapy and prevention.





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Internal Medicine | Medical Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine, Department of Medicine Faculty, Research

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