Serious acute chikungunya virus infection requiring intensive care during the reunion island outbreak in 2005–2006*

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Objective:To report the clinical and laboratory findings of adults with serious chikungunya virus acute infection hospitalized in an intensive care unit.Design:Case series study from August 2005 to May 2006.Setting:Medical intensive care unit, South Reunion Hospital.Patients:We observed 33 episodes of confirmed acute chikungunya virus infection (chikungunya virus-IgM or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction positive in the serum) admitted to the intensive care unit.Interventions:We collected cerebrospinal fluid, serum, and sometimes tissue samples from patients with suspected chikungunya fever in our intensive care unit. These samples underwent viral testing for evidence of acute chikungunya virus infection.Measurements and Main Results:Of the 33 patients, 19 (58%) had chikungunya virus specific manifestations, 8 (24%) had associated acute infectious disease and 6 (18%) exacerbations of previous complaints. Among the chikungunya virus specific manifestations, we identified 14 cases of encephalopathy, one case each of myocarditis, hepatitis and Guillain Barré syndrome. Eighty-five percent of patients had a McCabe score = 1 (for nonfatal or no underlying disease). Mortality was 48%.Conclusions:Chikungunya virus infection may be responsible for very severe clinical presentation, including young patients with unremarkable medical histories. Chikungunya virus infection is strongly suspected to have neurologic, hepatic, and myocardial tropism leading to dramatic complications and high mortality rate.

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