Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Frontiers in Medicine


Background: Secondary infections pose tremendous challenges in Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment and are associated with higher mortality rates. Clinicians face of the challenge of diagnosing viral infections because of low sensitivity of available laboratory tests.

Case Presentation: A 66-year-old woman initially manifested fever and shortness of breath. She was diagnosed as critically ill with COVID-19 using quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-qPCR) and treated with antiviral therapy, ventilator and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). However, after the condition was relatively stabled for a few days, the patient deteriorated with fever, frequent cough, increased airway secretions, and increased exudative lesions in the lower right lung on chest X-rays, showing the possibility of a newly acquired infection, though sputum bacterial and fungal cultures and smears showed negative results. Using metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS), we identified a reactivation of latent human herpes virus type 1 (HHV-1) in the respiratory tract, blood and gastrointestinal tract, resulting in a worsened clinical course in a critically ill COVID-19 patient on ECMO. Anti-HHV-1 therapy guided by these sequencing results effectively decreased HHV-1 levels, and improved the patient's clinical condition. After 49 days on ECMO and 67 days on the ventilator, the 66-year-old patient recovered and was discharged.

Conclusions: This case report demonstrates the potential value of mNGS for evidence-based treatment, and suggests that potential reactivation of latent viruses should be considered in critically ill COVID-19 patients.





UMass Amherst Open Access Policy

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.