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Common cold virus leads to death in lung transplant patients

Human rhinovirus (HRV), the leading cause of most common colds, struck two immunosuppressed lung transplant patients, leading to progressive respiratory failure, graft dysfunction and death. The two were part of a group of 11 transplant patients who suffered clinically significant respiratory infection from HRV in both the upper and lower airways, overturning the long-held belief that HRV affects only upper airway tissue.

The research appears in the second issue for December 2006 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Laurent Kaiser, M.D., of the Central Laboratory of Virology at the University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland, and 13 associates assessed the incidence of chronic rhinovirus infection and its potential clinical impact on 69 lung transplant recipients at two centers. Over a 19-month period, they screened all lung transplant patients using molecular analysis to detect 13 different respiratory viruses.

Human rhinovirus is a leading cause of respiratory infections in adults and children. Adults, on average, get infected with the virus once per year. Lung transplant patients, with impaired immune systems due to drugs to halt rejection, are at potentially higher risk from the virus.

"Our evidence demonstrates that rhinoviral disease is not exclusively limited to the upper respiratory tract," said Dr. Kaiser. "It can also lead to lower respiratory complications, which immunosuppressed patients can be at higher risk of developing."

Although eight lung transplant patients had transient rhinoviral infections, three showed a persistent infection. The others were able to clear the virus from their system.

"We confirmed the persistence of a single strain in each of three lung transplant recipients clinically infected by rhinovirus," said Dr. Kaiser. "Two of the three had chronic upper respiratory tract infections. All three had relapsing
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Source:American Thoracic Society


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