HSV-1 reactivation is associated with an increased risk of mortality and pneumonia in critically ill COVID-19 patients

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Crit Care. 2021 Dec 6;25(1):417. doi: 10.1186/s13054-021-03843-8.


BACKGROUND: Data in the literature about HSV reactivation in COVID-19 patients are scarce, and the association between HSV-1 reactivation and mortality remains to be determined. Our objectives were to evaluate the impact of Herpes simplex virus (HSV) reactivation in patients with severe SARS-CoV-2 infections primarily on mortality, and secondarily on hospital-acquired pneumonia/ventilator-associated pneumonia (HAP/VAP) and intensive care unit-bloodstream infection (ICU-BSI).

METHODS: We conducted an observational study using prospectively collected data and HSV-1 blood and respiratory samples from all critically ill COVID-19 patients in a large reference center who underwent HSV tests. Using multivariable Cox and cause-specific (cs) models, we investigated the association between HSV reactivation and mortality or healthcare-associated infections.

RESULTS: Of the 153 COVID-19 patients admitted for ≥ 48 h from Feb-2020 to Feb-2021, 40/153 (26.1%) patients had confirmed HSV-1 reactivation (19/61 (31.1%) with HSV-positive respiratory samples, and 36/146 (24.7%) with HSV-positive blood samples. Day-60 mortality was higher in patients with HSV-1 reactivation (57.5%) versus without (33.6%, p = 0.001). After adjustment for mortality risk factors, HSV-1 reactivation was associated with an increased mortality risk (hazard risk [HR] 2.05; 95% CI 1.16-3.62; p = 0.01). HAP/VAP occurred in 67/153 (43.8%) and ICU-BSI in 42/153 (27.5%) patients. In patients with HSV-1 reactivation, multivariable cause-specific models showed an increased risk of HAP/VAP (csHR 2.38, 95% CI 1.06-5.39, p = 0.037), but not of ICU-BSI.

CONCLUSIONS: HSV-1 reactivation in critically ill COVID-19 patients was associated with an increased risk of day-60 mortality and HAP/VAP.

PMID:34872611 | DOI:10.1186/s13054-021-03843-8