Objective: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) are common viruses that can affect critically ill patients who are not immunocompromised. The aim of this study was to determine whether the identification of CMV and/or HSV in mechanically ventilated critically ill patients suspected of having pneumonia was associated with an increased mortality.
Design: Prospective epidemiological study.
Setting: Medical intensive care unit of a tertiary medical center.
Patients: Ninety-three patients with suspected pneumonia.
Interventions: Patients with suspected pneumonia had bronchoalveolar lavage and blood samples taken to confirm the diagnosis. Antigenemia was used to detect CMV in the blood. Bronchoalveolar lavage samples were submitted to testing using quantitative real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction.
Measurements and main results: We identified 22 patients with a CMV infection, 26 patients with an HSV infection and 45 patients without CMV or HSV infection (control group). Mortality at day 60 was higher in patients with a CMV infection than in patients from the control group (55% vs. 20%, P<0.01). Mortality at day 60 was not significantly increased in the group with HSV infection. Duration of ICU stay and ICU mortality were significantly higher in patients with CMV infections when compared to patients from the control group, whereas ventilator free days were significantly lower in patients with CMV infections when compared to patients from the control group.
Conclusions: In critically ill patients, a CMV infection is associated with an increased mortality. Further interventional studies are needed to evaluate whether treatment could improve the prognosis.