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St. Jude finds risk factors for severe RSV infection in immunocompromised children
Date:2/4/2008

St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital investigators and collaborators have shown how to predict if a child who is infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) while being treated for cancer or another catastrophic disease is at high risk for developing severe infection. The finding will help clinicians improve guidelines for managing these infected children.

RSV is a common cause of pneumonia among infants, children and adults during winter, frequently causing fever, runny nose and coughs. It can be much more severe in patients who are undergoing cancer treatments and whose immune systems are suppressed. In these patients, the virus can move into the deep lung, causing pneumonia and other respiratory problems that can be fatal. However, it is difficult to predict which infected patient is likely to develop a serious lower respiratory tract illness and which one will continue to simply have a mild runny nose and cough.

The St. Jude team and collaborators found that if these children are under 2 years old and have very low levels of immune system cells in their blood called lymphocytes, they are at high risk for the RSV infection to become serious by moving into the lung. Such infections are especially dangerous because they can be fatal in some immunocompromised children, and there is no standard effective treatment for these infections, the researchers said. A report on the retrospective findings appears in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The new information is important because it helps identify children who are most at risk for severe disease using easily available clinical information, said Aditya Gaur, M.D., assistant member of the St. Jude Department of Infectious Diseases and the papers senior author. This narrows down the patient population who needs to be considered for antiviral therapy, which is costly and often inconvenient to receive from a childs perspective. For example, one treatment for RSV infection
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Contact: Carrie Strehlau
media@stjude.org
901-495-2295
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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