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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 341--344

Clinical signs as a guide for performing HSV-PCR in correct diagnosis of herpes simplex virus encephalitis

1 Clinical Virology, Organ Transplant Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
2 Clinical Microbiology Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
3 Department of Neurology, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran
4 Department of Pathology, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

Correspondence Address:
B B Abbas
Clinical Virology, Organ Transplant Research Center (OTRC), Namazee Hospital, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 14652434

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Background: Clinical criteria (symptoms) are not reliable enough to differentiate between different causes of encephalitis. The clinical presentation of herpes simplex virus encephalitis (HSVE) is not classically constant and in such a patient, therefore, it is vital to make early diagnosis. Aims: To investigate satisfactory and crucial clinical signs as guide to perform HSV-PCR in a rapid diagnosis of herpes simplex virus encephalitis. Material and Methods: A total of 156 CSF specimens from 70 patients with clinically suspected HSVE or meningoencephalitis were tested. The criteria for cases suspected of HSVE were fever >380C, altered mental status and other critical manifestations. CSF features, irregularity in brain CT scan and MRI findings were also assessed. All the specimens were collected before and after Acyclovir treatment. Polymerase chain reaction was performed using primers, which amplified DNA sequences for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Statistical Analysis: To analyze data, two-tailed Fisher’s exact test and the X2-test with Yates’ correction were used as appropriate. The odds ratio was used to express the strength of association between the clinical factors and the PCR results. Results: HSV-DNA was detected in 18% of the specimens, belonging to 25.7% of the patients. Results indicate that the majority of the clinical symptoms are not specific to definitive clinical diagnosis of HSVE, except alteration in the level of consciousness—odds ratio [0.27 (0.07-0.96) (P=0.033)]; and lateralization sign—odds ratio [4.7 (0.98-22.6) (P=0.023)]. However, laboratory data, including total white blood cell count, especially the number of lymphocytes, and MRI findings could be suggested for HSV-PCR examination. Conclusion: At the first admission, a preliminary finding of at least two important clinical features mentioned above along with the pattern of CSF cell and differential counts could be sufficient to perform HSV-PCR which could ultimately result in a rapid and correct diagnosis of herpes simplex encephalitis.


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Online since 20th March '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow