What is the role of herpes simplex virus (HSV) in the etiology of viral pneumonia?

Updated: Mar 24, 2021
  • Author: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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Answer

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a rare cause of lower respiratory tract infections and is seen primarily in severely immunocompromised patients, primarily HSCT and SOT recipients, patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or are neutropenic, or those who have congenital immunodeficiency. [26] HSV pneumonia develops either secondary to upper airway infection (because of direct extension of the virus from the upper to the lower respiratory tract) or following viremia secondary to dissemination of HSV from genital or oral lesions.

Herpes simplex virus is spread by contact with active lesions or viral shed by asymptomatic excreters. While not a classic respiratory virus, herpes simplex virus can cause pneumonia in compromised hosts, with a mortality rate of 80%. Pneumonia may develop from primary infection or reactivation.


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