Neuroinvasive West Nile virus infections after solid organ transplantation: Single center experience and systematic review

Anum Abbas, Fang Qiu, Adia Sikyta, Paul D. Fey, Diana F. Florescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: West Nile virus (WNv) is a major cause of viral encephalitis in the United States. WNv infection is usually asymptomatic or a limited febrile illness in the immunocompetent hosts, although a small percentage can develop neuroinvasive disease. Neuroinvasive disease due to WNv in solid organ transplant recipients occurs at higher rates than observed in the general population and can have long term neurological sequalae. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed medical records of all solid organ transplant recipients at our institution who tested positive for WNv from 2010 to 2018. Two reviewers performed electronic searches of Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library of literature of WNv infections in SOT. Descriptive statistics were performed on key variables. Results: Eight recipients (mean age 54, five males) were diagnosed with neuroinvasive WNv infection at our institution. Distribution of infection was as follows: five kidney transplants, one in each kidney-pancreas, liver, and lung. Diagnoses included meningitis (3), encephalitis (1), meningo-encephalitis (4). Median time from transplant to infection was 49.8 months (2.7–175.4). No infections were considered donor-derived. Five patients received treatment with IVIG. Six patients were alive at median follow-up of 49.5 months (21.7–116.8). We identified 29 studies published from 2002 to 2019. Median time from transplant to infection was 14.2 months, with similar allograft distribution; 53% were donor-derived infections. Conclusion: WNv infections in solid organ transplant recipients can be a consequence of organ donation or can be acquired via the community. Infections can be more severe in SOT recipients and lead to neuroinvasive disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTransplant Infectious Disease
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • West Nile virus
  • heart transplantation
  • intestinal transplantation
  • kidney transplantation
  • liver transplantation
  • lung transplantation
  • neuroinvasive
  • pancreas transplantation
  • solid organ transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Infectious Diseases


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