Naturally acquired West Nile virus encephalomyelitis in transplant recipients: clinical, laboratory, diagnostic, and neuropathological features

Archives of Neurology
B K Kleinschmidt-DeMastersKenneth L Tyler


In the 2003 West Nile virus (WNV) epidemic, Colorado reported more WNV cases than any other state, including an unprecedented number in organ transplant recipients. Physicians caring for transplant recipients hospitalized with naturally acquired WNV encephalitis provided data to characterize the clinical symptoms, results of diagnostic studies, and outcomes. Eleven transplant recipients were identified (4 kidney, 2 stem cell, 2 liver, 1 lung, and 2 kidney/pancreas). Seven were directly admitted to 1 of the 2 hospitals in the study, and 4 were referred to 1 of these centers from regional hospitals. All but 1 patient had a prodrome typical of WNV encephalitis in nonimmunosuppressed patients. Ten patients developed meningoencephalitis, which in 3 cases was associated with acute flaccid paralysis. One patient developed acute flaccid paralysis without encephalitis. Six patients had significant movement disorders including tremor, myoclonus, or parkinsonism. All patients had cerebrospinal fluid pleocytosis and WNV-specific IgM in the cerebrospinal fluid and/or serum. Cerebrospinal fluid cytologic studies (n = 5) showed atypical lymphocytes, some resembling plasma cells; however, flow cytometry (n = 3) showed that cells were almost ex...Continue Reading


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