Near fatal acute respiratory distress syndrome in a patient with human ehrlichiosis

South Med J. 1999 Mar;92(3):333-5. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199903000-00017.


Human ehrlichiosis is not a common cause of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Physicians should be aware of this life-threatening but treatable entity. Progression to ARDS may be related to delay in diagnosis and treatment. Fever, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and a history of tick exposure in an endemic area during the spring and summer months should alert the physician to the possibility of human ehrlichiosis, since a definitive diagnosis requires serologic testing that may take weeks to confirm. We describe a case of ARDS resulting from human ehrlichiosis. A unique feature in our case was that despite the early use of doxycycline, the patient had near fatal ARDS that responded dramatically to high doses of steroids.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Ehrlichiosis / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Methylprednisolone