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Pneumomediastinum and Pneumothorax Associated with Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Pneumonia

Fermín López-Rivera, Xavier Colón Rivera, Hernán A. González Monroig, Juan Garcia Puebla

(PGY-II, Department of Internal Medicine, San Juan City Hospital, San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Am J Case Rep 2018; 19:109-113

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.906051

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is one of the most common causes of death from infectious disease in the United States (US). Although most cases of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) are secondary to bacterial infection, up to one-third of cases are secondary to viral infection, most commonly due to rhinovirus and influenza virus. Pneumonia due to herpes simplex virus (HSV) is rare, and there is limited knowledge of the pathogenesis and clinical complications. This report is of a fatal case of HSV pneumonia associated with bilateral pneumothorax and pneumomediastinum.
CASE REPORT: A 36-year-old homeless male Hispanic patient, who was a chronic smoker, with a history of intravenous drug abuse and a medical history of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, not on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), was admitted to hospital as an emergency with a seven-day history of productive purulent cough. The patient was admitted to the medical intensive care unit (MICU) with a diagnosis of CAP, with intubation and mechanical ventilation. Broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) was performed and was positive for HSV. The patient developed bilateral pneumothorax with pneumomediastinum, which was fatal, despite aggressive clinical management.
CONCLUSIONS: Pneumonia due to HSV infection is uncommon but has a high mortality. Although HSV pneumonia has been described in immunocompromised patients, further studies are required to determine the pathogenesis, early detection, identification of patients who are at risk and to determine the most effective approaches to prophylaxis and treatment for HSV pneumonia.

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