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Author Notes:

Andres Pelaez, MD, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Ste. F-520, 1364 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322. Telephone: 404-727-9651. Fax: 404-727-1516. apelaez@emory.edu.


Research Funding:

Supported by the McKelvey Center for Lung Transplantation and Pulmonary Vascular Diseases, Emory University.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Cardiac & Cardiovascular Systems
  • Respiratory System
  • Surgery
  • Transplantation
  • Cardiovascular System & Cardiology

Efficacy of Oral Ribavirin in Lung Transplant Patients With Respiratory Syncytial Virus Lower Respiratory Tract Infection


Journal Title:

Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation


Volume 28, Number 1


, Pages 67-71

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can cause severe lower respiratory tract infection (LRI) and is a risk factor for the development of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) after lung transplantation (LTx). Currently, the most widely used therapy for RSV is inhaled ribavirin. However, this therapy is costly and cumbersome. We investigated the utility of using oral ribavirin for the treatment of RSV infection after LTx. Methods: RSV was identified in nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) or bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) using direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) in 5 symptomatic LTx patients diagnosed with LRI. Data were collected from December 2005 and August 2007 and included: age; gender; type of LTx; underlying disease; date of RSV; pulmonary function prior to, during and up to 565 days post-RSV infection; need for mechanical ventilation; concurrent infections; and radiographic features. Patients received oral ribavirin for 10 days with solumedrol (10 to 15 mg/kg/day intravenously) for 3 days, until repeat NPS were negative. Results: Five patients had their RSV-LRI diagnosis made at a median of 300 days post-LTx. Mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) fell 21% (p < 0.012) during infection. After treatment, FEV1 returned to baseline and was maintained at follow-up of 565 days. There were no complications and no deaths with oral therapy. A 10-day course of oral ribavirin cost $700 compared with $14,000 for nebulized ribavirin at 6 g/day. Conclusions: Treatment of RSV after LTx with oral ribavirin and corticosteroids is well tolerated, effective and less costly than inhaled ribavirin. Further studies are needed to directly compare the long-term efficacy of oral vs nebulized therapy for RSV.

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Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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