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Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus infection associated with purpuric skin lesions: a case report

Rocco Urso1*, Nazario Bevilacqua1, Marco Gentile2, Daniele Biagioli1 and Francesco Nicola Lauria1

Author Affiliations

1 Infectious Respiratory Diseases Unit, Clinic Department, National Institute for Infectious Diseases "L. Spallanzani" (INMI), Rome, Italy

2 Third Infectious Diseases Unit, Clinic Department, National Institute for Infectious Diseases "L. Spallanzani" (INMI), Rome, Italy

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2011, 5:132  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-5-132

Published: 1 April 2011

Abstract

Introduction

The influenza virus infection may be severe in non-immune people. Common complications of influenza virus include upper and lower respiratory tract infections, otitis media, myocarditis, acute respiratory distress syndrome and multi-organ failure. There have been cases of vasculitis following influenza vaccination, and rash and acute purpura may occur in certain viral infections. To the best of our knowledge, there are no reports concerning cases of systemic vasculitis associated with pandemic 2009 (H1N1) infection.

Case presentation

A 23-year-old Caucasian woman was hospitalized at the "L. Spallanzani" National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome, Italy. Clinical and radiological features including laboratory findings of this case are illustrated. Notably, the patient had fever, severe abdominal pain, hematuria, arthritis, and purpuric manifestations associated with a normal platelet count. Nasopharyngeal and rectal swabs revealed pandemic 2009 (H1N1) virus by reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction assay. Routine laboratory analyses showed elevated inflammatory parameters. The autoimmune panel tests were normal. Steroid therapy associated with oseltamivir achieved an evident and rapid improvement. On day seven the patient chose to leave the hospital against medical advice.

Conclusion

Complications related to influenza infection can be life threatening, particularly in immunocompromised patients. Henoch-Schönlein purpura triggered by the novel influenza virus infection could be an attractive pathogenetic hypothesis. We have discussed both the diagnosis and the challenge of therapy protocols. Steroid therapy is part of the management of severe vasculitis. Our case suggests that steroid therapy associated with antivirals can prevent the risk of further complications such as hemorrhage and multi-organ failure during severe vasculitis, without enhancing the virulence of the influenza virus. The possible role of pandemic 2009 (H1N1) in the pathogenesis of hemorrhagic manifestations should be further investigated.