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Question:

Herpes simplex lung infection in immunocompromised patients

Dear Ask The Doctor:
Can you get HERPES in your lungs? If so how does it get in there? What r the typical symptoms and is it fatal? I can't seem to find much information online about Herpes in the Lungs, but I believe it is possible. If a person gets HERPES in their lungs how does it get there, saliva? What are the typical symptoms? How common is it? Is it fatal in adults that don't have other health problems outside of Herpes (HVS1 &/or HVS2 ) ?


Answer:

It is possible to have a lung infection with Herpes simplex virus, although this generally occurs only if the patient is immunocompromised (e.g. HIV infection, prolonged corticosteroid use, post chemotherapy). This means that their immune system cannot fight off normal infections and is susceptible to varied infections often termed opportunistic. These patients are particularly at risk of Herpes simplex (HSV) and varicella zoster virus (VZV) infectionIn patients with cutaneous HSV and VZV infections, viral dissemination to liver, lungs, brain, or gastrointestinal tract can occur in 10 percent of patients. Nasal, oropharyngeal, or esophageal HSV or VZV infections may spread directly to the lungs with the development of vesicular lesions in the trachea. Pulmonary involvement with HSV and VZV in the immunocompromised host is considered a life-threatening emergency.


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