Severe sepsis and septic shock syndrome may be rare complications of chikungunya virus infection, according to a recent study in Guadeloupe.
Dr. Bruno Hoen, of the department of infectious diseases, dermatology, and internal medicine at the University Medical Center of Guadeloupe, and his associates studied 110 nonpregnant adults hospitalized at the University Hospital of Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, with chikungunya (CHIKV) after a November 2013 outbreak in Guadeloupe. Of all patients who had a positive CHIKV reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result, 34 had a common form, 34 had an atypical form, and 42 had a severe form. Among the 42 patients with severe forms, 25 patients had illness consistent with the case definition for severe sepsis and had no other identified cause for this syndrome, and 12 died.
The 25 patients identified as having severe sepsis had significantly higher occurrences of cardiac, respiratory, and renal manifestations upon admission to hospital. They also had significantly higher leukocyte counts and levels of serum lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase, and creatinine – all clinical and laboratory indicators of sepsis – than patients without severe sepsis or septic shock. In addition, the mortality rate for the patients with severe sepsis was significantly higher than that in patients without severe sepsis or septic shock (48% vs. 3%; P less than .001).
As none of the 25 patients with severe sepsis or septic shock in the early stages of CHIKV had another organism that could be identified as a potential cause of sepsis, the researchers concluded that this finding strongly suggests that CHIKV can, in rare cases, cause severe sepsis and septic shock syndromes, an observation that had not been reported until very recently.
Dr. Hoen and his colleagues said additional studies are needed to identify any background characteristics that might be associated with the onset of severe sepsis or septic shock. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.
Read the full study in Emerging Infectious Diseases (2016 May. doi: 10.3201/eid2205.151449).