Document Type : Case reports


1 Rheumatology Department, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, China

2 Pathology Department, The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen, China


Introduction: Chronic active Epstein-Barr virus infection (CAEBV) is a rare, life-threatening disease entity involving multiple organs and systems. The disease could be presented in a single organ with atypical symptoms, be misdiagnosed at the early phase, and resolved without aggressive treatment. Previous studies reported favorable outcomes with early diagnosis and treatment, while in other cases, disease progression and presenting in other organs could result in a very poor outcome. Clinicians from any department should be aware of the CAEBV entity when an unresolved systemic inflammation presents.
Case Presentation: A 61-year-old female presented to the cardiology department due to edema and fatigue with the progression of symptoms, including fever, muscle weakness, and shortness of breath. MR images showed muscular edema, and ultrasound analysis revealed massive pericardial effusion. Results of laboratory tests indicated hematological involvement, liver damage, and positivity for EBV DNA, and EBER in muscle and intestine by staining. She was first misdiagnosed with ulcerative colitis, but the disease evolved to the muscles and cardiovascular system later on. Altogether, the CAEBV infection with enteritis, myositis, and pericardial effusion was confirmed in the case. Although diagnosed, the treatment of the elderly population remains rather challenging in severe cases. The patient died after disease onset for less than three years.
Conclusions: Elderly patients with CAEBV infection tend to have a poor prognosis. Early diagnosis would facilitate early treat- ment and the utilization of available options, which might reduce the disease mortality rate eventually. Individualized therapy and promising approaches should be further developed for CAEBV infection.


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