Background: A 17-year-old boy on long-term immunosuppression following renal transplantation for chronic kidney disease (CKD), the result of dysplastic kidneys, initially presented with a swelling in his neck while attending hospital for an unrelated problem. A clinical diagnosis of tonsillitis was made, and he was treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics. Over a few days, his condition deteriorated, and he developed multiple vesicopustular skin lesions and required an emergency tonsillectomy due to respiratory distress.
Case diagnosis/treatment: Histological investigation of the skin and tonsillar tissue suggested a viral aetiology, and subsequent electron microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tissue examination proved disseminated cowpox infection. The family cat, which was reported as having self-resolving sores on its skin, was likely the source of the infection. The child failed to respond to antiviral treatment and succumbed to multiorgan failure within a month of admission.
Conclusions: We report this case of fatal disseminated cowpox infection to highlight an increasing risk of this illness in the post-transplant population and to detail some unusual features not previously described, such as tonsillar involvement, disseminated skin lesions and multiorgan failure.
Keywords: Cow pox; Fatal/death; Immunosuppression; Paediatric; Transplant.