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Fatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 12:40 am    Post subject: Fatal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection Reply with quote

WARNING to anyone being treated for cold agglutinin disease (CAD) or
anyone who is immunocompromised (due, for example, to cancer therapy,
organ transplantation, or HIV): Please familiarize yourself with the
symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for cytomegalovirus (CMV)
infection. To learn more, search for keywords: "CMV pneumonia", "CMV
colitis" "CMV brain"

From September 2004 through May 2005, a family member was undergoing
treatment for cold agglutinin disease thought to have been caused by an

indolent lymphoma (NHL), but despite the apparent success of the
treatment in eliminating the cold agglutinins, she became weaker and
weaker over time.

After she died in May 2005, the medical examiner found evidence of
extensive widespread damage due to CMV infection in the lungs,
throughout the entire digestive tract, liver, brain, bone marrow and
other organs. He could find no macroscopic or microscopic evidence of
lymphoma. The immediate cause of death was the widespread edema
throughout the stomach and intestines which had prevented the
absorption of any nutrients for several weeks.

The doctors who were treating my family member were often puzzled by
her symptoms and her unusual reactions to therapies. It is possible
that she suffered from both NHL and CMV infection, but it is certain
that CMV was the cause of death.

Several of the symptoms of CMV are similar to the symptoms of lymphoma
and others are similar to the side-effects caused by cancer therapies;
thus they can be easily confounded. However, a misdiagnosis or a missed
diagnosis in this situation can be fatal. Cancer therapies depress the
immune system, allowing CMV and other opportunistic infections to
overwhelm the body in ways not ordinarily seen in healthy adults.

Here are some of the symptoms of CMV as it attacks various organs (as
experienced by my family member):

* Cold agglutinin disease
* Hemolytic anemia
* Enlarged spleen
* Skin rash
* Pneumonia with fever, non-productive cough, shortness of breath
* Painful swallowing, heartburn, loss of appetite
* Weight loss
* Painful elimination, hemorrhoids, fistulas
* Fever, chills
* Weakness, fatigue
* Malnutrition
* Edema in the legs (and/or arms)
* Chronic (odorless) diarrhea
* Fluctuating red and white blood cell counts
* Joint pain
* Severe headaches
* Confusion, apathy, withdrawal, memory problems, behavioral changes

Although 10-20% of AIDS patients develop CMV infections of this type,
it is relatively rare among cancer patients or "healthy adults".
However, if you recognize some combination or sequence of these
symptoms in yourself or a patient, please consider testing for CMV

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