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Viral pneumonia in recipients of solid organ transplants.

Viral pulmonary infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in solid organ transplant recipients. The herpes viruses-cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, varicella zoster virus, and Epstein-Barr virus--cause most of the viral infections in this population. Respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, and human immunodeficiency virus also cause pneumonitis in the transplant recipient. Differences in the clinical and laboratory presentation of pneumonitis due to the various viral agents can provide clues to the etiology. However, definitive diagnosis requires laboratory identification of the virus or appropriate serologic changes. With cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, Epstein-Barr virus, and adenovirus, one must take care to distinguish between asymptomatic shedding of the virus and disease produced by the virus. Advances in diagnostic techniques such as rapid antigen detection, nucleic acid hybridization, and gene amplification may allow an earlier diagnosis of viral pneumonia. Advances in risk reduction with appropriate pairing of donors and recipients, improved immunosuppressive regimens, vaccination, and prophylactic administration of antiviral agents may reduce the incidence of viral infection. Finally, advances in anti-viral therapy have made possible the successful treatment of pneumonia due to some of the viral agents.

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