Hepatitis A Associated with Chylothorax: An Uncommon Presentation of a Common Infection

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Extra-hepatic manifestations have seldom been described with hepatitis A, which usually manifests as mild hepatic dysfunction. We report a 3-year-old boy presenting with 3 days of fever, vomiting, abdominal distention and scleral icterus. On examination, he had tachypnea, hepatosplenomegaly, ascites and right-sided pleural effusion. A diagnostic pleural tap yielded a milky, lymphocyte-predominant exudative aspirate, with pleural fluid triglycerides of 175 mg/dl, suggestive of chylothorax. Serology for anti-HAV IgM was positive in both blood and pleural fluid. The massive effusion causing collapse of the underlying lung was drained by tube thoracostomy, which was followed by complete resolution within 2 weeks. This is the first reported case of chylothorax associated with hepatitis A infection. This report highlights that pleural effusion associated with hepatitis A infection is usually a benign, self-limiting condition which should be considered in the differential diagnosis of pleural effusion or chylothorax in a patient with acute viral hepatitis.

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