A Retrospective, Case-Control Study of Acyclovir Resistance in Herpes Simplex Virus

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Background.Occasional cases of acyclovir resistance have been documented in the treatment of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection. Thirty-eight subjects with acyclovir-resistant infections were identified in an epidemiological surveillance program involving 1811 HSV-infected subjects in France.Methods.Twenty-three index cases from whom acyclovir-resistant HSV strains had been isolated were compared with 46 control subjects matched for immunological status. Sociodemographic characteristics, features of the acyclovir-resistant HSV episode, history of HSV infection, treatment, outcome, and immunological history were recorded.Results.Twenty-two index case patients presented with immunodepression. Sixty-five percent reported clinically manifest recurrences, compared with 33% of matched control subjects. Significantly more index case patients had used antiviral drugs, and they had used them more often than had control subjects. However, 26.1% of index case patients reported no antiviral exposure in the previous 2 years. Two-thirds of the strains recovered from the index case patients were isolated because of suspicion of clinical resistance to acyclovir.Conclusions.Clinical treatment resistance is associated with acyclovir-resistant HSV strains, but acyclovir-resistant strains were also isolated from treatment-naive subjects.

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