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

is to have the child breathe an aerosolized form of the antiviral drug ribavirin for 12 to 18 hours, which is tough for the child and the parent.

The findings of this study require confirmation in prospective studies, Gaur said. Results of the study also help define which children should receive medications that can help prevent RSV infection.

Another significant finding was thatunlike some previous reports in immunocompromised adults with RSVneutropenia is not a risk factor for lower respiratory track infection, Gaur said. Neutropenia is an abnormally low level of neutrophils, immune system cells that engulf and digest germs.

This finding is important because with cancer patients, clinicians are used to identifying those at risk for bacterial and fungal infections based on a patient having neutropenia, Gaur said. This study shows that for RSV, which is a viral infection, lymphopenia and not neutropenia is what identifies children at risk.

Previous studies have shown that lower respiratory track infection, is more common in children whose immune system is suppressed, who are receiving chemotherapy or who have received a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). However, while some studies report that lower respiratory track infection, due to RSV is fatal in 50 to 100 percent of infected adults, there is little information about this type of infection in immunocompromised children. We decided to analyze the course of RSV infection in children being treated for cancer to identify factors that could help us predict which ones were at highest risk for severe disease or death due to a lower respiratory tract infection with this virus, Gaur said. HSCT is the transplantation of special cells from the blood or bone marrow that can give rise to all the blood cells of the body (red and white cells and platelets).

The St. Jude team studied clinical and laboratory information from the records of 58 patients who had tested positive
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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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