Author | Tim Kuberski, MD


West Nile Virus-The Rodney Dangerfield of Infections

September 01, 2008

WNV first appeared in the United States in 1999.1 This infection "got no respect" even though it caused significant morbidity and mortality while crossing the United States unabated for the past 9 years. Patients died mainly of neuroinvasive complications such as encephalitis and a polio-like paralysis. The lack of respect became a reality to clinicians in Phoenix in 2004 when they found themselves poorly prepared to manage the many acutely ill patients affected by WNV. That there was a lack of practical information about how to manage WNV became readily apparent to these clinicians.

Clinical Observations on West Nile Virus Infections

September 01, 2008

In 2004, 391 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) infection werereported in Arizona. This represented an epidemic thatchallenged area clinicians. We treated 34 patients with WNVinfection and reviewed their medical records. They werehospitalized at 3 community hospitals during the epidemic.These patients represented 9% of all WNV infection casesreported in Arizona. Meningitis was diagnosed in 13 patients,encephalitis in 12, fever of unknown origin in 5, transversemyelitis in 3, and carditis in 1. Respiratory failure requiringmechanical ventilation developed in 6 patients. Five of thesickest patients were empirically treated with interferon alfa 2band ribavirin. The epidemic and associated clinical challengesprompted evaluation of the available diagnostic and treatmentstrategies to optimize care of very ill patients. The consensusamong clinicians was that they were poorly prepared todiagnose and treat WNV infection in hospitalized patients.All patients survived hospitalization, although 4 patientsdied after discharge because of factors attributable to WNVinfection. [Infect Med. 2008;25:430-434]

Eosinophilic Meningitis Due to Angiostrongylus cantonensis

August 01, 2008

The case concerns a patient with eosinophilic meningitisattributed to the helminthic parasite Angiostrongyluscantonensis. Before the onset of illness, our patient had ahistory of travel to Hawaii, the only area in the United Stateswhere A cantonensis is endemic. Finding eosinophils in thecerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can narrow the differential diagnosisin a patient with meningitis. In our patient, the proportion ofeosinophils in the CSF was 55%. The case is unique because thepatient was a strict vegetarian. This infection usually developsin persons who inadvertently ingest snails or slugs that containthe parasite. [Infect Med. 2008;25:366-368]

Life-Threatening Heart Failure Associated With Itraconazole

June 01, 2008

Life-threatening heart failure associated with itraconazoleantifungal therapy developed in a patient with disseminatedCoccidioides immitis infection. This was documented bycardiac studies that demonstrated a deterioration of cardiacfunction during therapy and an improvement after itraconazoletherapy was discontinued. Heart failure associatedwith itraconazole can be missed by those unfamiliar with thiscomplication. In any patient with a fungal infection who isbeing treated with itraconazole, this serious complication canoccur; however, it can be reversible with discontinuation ofthe drug. [Infect Med. 2008;25:292-293]