Viral infections in immunocompromised patients: what's new with respiratory viruses?

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2002 Aug;15(4):355-67. doi: 10.1097/00001432-200208000-00002.


Purpose of review: The leading cause of death in solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients is infection. The respiratory viruses, particularly respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, parainfluenza, adenovirus, and picornaviruses, are increasingly recognized as significant pathogens in these populations.

Recent findings: Respiratory syncytial virus has again been found to be the most common of the respiratory viruses causing severe infections in transplant recipients. Advances in prevention, particularly with regard to infection control practices, and to lesser extent treatment have had a substantial impact on the frequency and outcomes of this infection. New studies have clarified the impact of influenza in the hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients and have provided evidence to support the use of M2 and neuraminidase inhibitors for early treatment. The epidemiology of parainfluenza and adenovirus in transplant recipients has been clarified, although therapeutic modalities are still limited and understudied. New antiviral medications may bring improved outcomes of picornavirus infections in this population. Finally, a new virus, the human metapneumovirus, has recently been described and may be a significant respiratory pathogen in immunocompromised transplant recipients.

Summary: Studies published over the past year have documented a new respiratory pathogen. They have also resulted in improved understanding of the epidemiology of all of the respiratory virus pathogens, and have contributed to improve management of respiratory syncytial virus and influenza infection in hematopoietic stem cell transplant and solid organ transplant recipients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Immunosuppression / adverse effects
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy
  • Virus Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Virus Diseases / etiology*
  • Virus Diseases / mortality
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control


  • Antiviral Agents