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August 27, 1973

Lymphopenia and Multiple Viral Infections

Author Affiliations

University of Wisconsin Center for Health Sciences Madison

JAMA. 1973;225(9):1120-1121. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220370058023

To the Editor.—  Lobes and Cherry (223:1143, 1973) described a child who developed fatal measles pneumonia preceded by chicken pox. Lymphopenia was noted. Two years ago we observed a 10-year-old boy who developed lymphopenia after a vague illness (on clinical grounds thought to be a viral infection), and he later died of disseminated varicella. Since then we have observed at least four cases in which the initial clinical picture of viral illness with lymphopenia was further complicated by superimposed infections. In studying the sera of these patients by Terasaki's microcytotoxicity technique, we were able to show that these patients' sera were cytotoxic to autologous and allogenic lymphocytes.1 Further, immunochemical studies indicated that the complement dependent cytotoxic factor was immunoglobulin M and optimally active at 37 C. Patients who had various viral illnesses, studied in collaboration with the State Laboratory of Hygiene, developed lymphopenia in 21 of 88 cases studied