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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Disseminated Herpes Simplex Virus-2 (HSV-2) as a Cause of Viral Hepatitis in an Immunocompetent Host

Challenging differential diagnosis

Dushyanth Srinivasan, Christina M. Kaul, Amna B. Buttar, Fatima I. Nottingham, Jeffrey B. Greene

USA Division of Hospital Medicine, Department of Medicine, New York University (NYU) Grossman School of Medicine, New York City, NY, USA

Am J Case Rep 2021; 22:e932474

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.932474

Available online: 2021-06-22

Published: 2021-08-03


BACKGROUND: Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) affects nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States. Complications such as viral hepatitis and dissemination are rare in immunocompetent hosts. In this report, we describe a case of viral hepatitis secondary to disseminated HSV-2 in an immunocompetent patient with recurrent fevers and elevated aminotransferases.
CASE REPORT: A 57-year-old man with a history of type 2 diabetes and hypertension was admitted with a right index finger lesion concerning for an abscess. He underwent successful incision and drainage and was started on ampicillin-sulbactam. On Day 2 of hospitalization, he developed recurrent fevers and elevated aminotransferases and inflammatory markers. An extensive infectious, rheumatologic, and malignancy workup were pursued without immediate findings. Imaging demonstrated cirrhotic morphology of the liver and splenomegaly, but lab markers were intact for liver synthetic function. On Day 7 of hospitalization, fever frequency decreased, and HSV-2 titers resulted, with positive IgM and negative IgG. He subsequently developed erythematous, raised lesions in multiple dermatomes. Nucleic acid amplification testing of biopsied lesions was positive for HSV-2, confirming viral hepatitis secondary to disseminated HSV-2. He was started on intravenous acyclovir and discharged on valacyclovir following improvement in symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS: We report a case of viral hepatitis secondary to disseminated HSV-2 in an immunocompetent host. Up to 25% of cases occur in immunocompetent hosts and many patients do not develop characteristic skin lesions. Early diagnosis and treatment of viral hepatitis secondary to disseminated HSV remains vital to minimize morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: Hepatitis, Herpes Simplex, Leukopenia