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Fatal H1N1 infection in an HIV positive woman
Negative flu tests, HIV infection delay treatment
The authors describe a fatal case of H1N1 pandemic influenza A associated with pneumonia, which resulted in respiratory and renal failure in a 39-year-old HIV-positive woman. She had type 1 diabetes and a diagnosis of AIDS 7 years ago and had received highly active antiretroviral therapy. She also had an ill child at home with an influenza-like illness.
Her medical history included pleuropericardial Nocardia spp. infection, recurrent pleural effusions requiring thoracentesis, and hepatomegaly of unknown cause. Her most recent CD4 cell count was 166 cells/mL with undetectable viral load 1 month before admission. Medications prescribed included combivir, efavirenz, and rimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole but she was noncompliant. She had received the 2008–09 seasonal influenza vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine.
The patient was admitted to Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, NY on June 5, 2009, for community-acquired pneumonia. She received empiric moxifloxacin and atovaquone. Because of concern for persistent Nocardia spp. infection, she was also treated with doxycycline. The result of a rapid influenza test was negative for a nasal swab specimen on day 1 of hospitalization. Over the next 48 hours, her clinical status deteriorated, and she experienced worsening hypotension and respiratory distress.
She was transferred to the intensive care unit and required intubation, pressor support, and continuous venovenous hemofiltration for fluid removal. Empiric oseltamivir (150 mg 2×/d) was started on hospital day 3; moxifloxicin was discontinued, and meropenem was given for pneumonia. Thoracentesis showed transudative fluid negative for acid-fast bacilli, bacteria, and fungi. Results of blood cultures and urine analysis for Legionella spp. antigen were negative. Repeat chest radiography showed a right-sided pneumothorax and worsening bilateral airspace disease. A chest tube was inserted in the right lung, and bronchoscopy was performed on hospital day 5. Results of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) were negative for Pneumocystis jiroveci, virus inclusions, fungi, acid-fast bacilli, bacteria, and mycobacteria. However, clusters of filamentous organisms were seen. On hospital day 5, results of a second rapid influenza test, respiratory fluorescent antibody test, and nasopharyngeal virus culture were negative. Diagnosis was based on a positive result for pandemic H1N1 influenza A by real-time reverse transcription–PCR (RT-PCR) for a nasopharyngeal swab specimen. Despite empiric treatment with oseltamivir, the patient died on June 15, 2009 (day 11 of hospitalization).
Symptoms of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in HIV-infected persons are not known, the authors note. However, they have a higher risk for complications. In previous seasonal influenza outbreaks, HIV-infected persons had more severe infections and increased hospitalization and mortality rates.
"Although a diagnosis of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 was first considered for our patient because of her ill child, she was not initially treated with oseltamivir because of the negative influenza test result and concern for opportunistic infections," the authors report. "Only the result of an RT-PCR for pandemic (H1N1) 2009 was positive. No other pathogens were detected in her blood, urine, sputum, BAL, or thoracenthesis fluid."
Empiric treatment in patients with pandemic (H1N1) 2009 should be considered in those seeking treatment for influenza-like symptoms, especially in the setting of sick contacts with respiratory illnesses. Rapid influenza tests, respiratory fluorescent antibody tests, and viral cultures may not provide a diagnosis. An RT-PCR for pandemic (H1N1) 2009 may be needed to provide a diagnosis, the conclude.