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West Nile virus infection may persist in kidneys years after initial infection
Date:12/7/2009

A new study shows that people who have been infected with West Nile virus may have persistent virus in their kidneys for years after initial infection, potentially leading to kidney problems. The research, which appears in the January 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, is now available online (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/648731).

Spread by infected mosquitoes, West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since then, approximately 25,000 human cases have been reported, causing more than 1,000 deaths. Many more have become infected without showing symptoms. Previous animal studies raised the possibility that patients may still be infected with the virus several years after recovering from their initial illness. Prior to this latest research, however, humans were thought to remain infected with West Nile virus only for the first few days of illness. The study, led by Kristy Murray, DVM, PhD at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, demonstrates that not all individuals clear the virus from their system within the first few daysand that it can remain in the kidneys for years, potentially leading to kidney failure.

Dr. Murray and her colleagues followed more than 100 patients in Houston with severe initial West Nile virus infections for seven years. Individuals were evaluated and blood samples collected every six months. More than half continued to have infection-related symptoms years after their initial illness, although symptoms began to plateau around two years after infection. The deaths of five participants due to kidney failure led researchers to consider whether the kidney could be a preferred replication site for the virus.

To test this hypothesis, Dr. Murray and her team collected urine samples from 25 patients from their original cohort and tested them for presence of West Nile v
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Contact: John Heys
jheys@idsociety.org
703-299-0412
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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