Delhi: Five post-Covid patients report new complication at Ganga Ram Hospital

One of the patients died because of a severe Covid infection and “massive bleeding”, the hospital said. Another required surgery.

Five cases of Cytomegalovirus (CMV), causing rectal bleeding in patients who had earlier tested positive for Covid, have been reported at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.

The patients complained of blood in stools, pain or intestinal obstruction.

One of the patients died because of a severe Covid infection and “massive bleeding”, the hospital said. Another patient required surgery.

CMV usually affects only immunocompromised people, such as those suffering from cancer, AIDS, or those who have recently had transplants. In these five cases, however, doctors said that the patients were otherwise immunocompetent but had contracted Covid.

“During the second wave of Covid-19 in April-May 2021, we have seen five cases of CMV infection in otherwise immunocompetent patients with Covid-19. These patients presented with pain in abdomen and bleeding in stools. They presented with symptoms with a mean of 20-30 days after a Covid-19 diagnosis. None of them had other predisposing immunosuppressed states accounting for this viral infection,” said Dr Anil Arora, chairperson, Institute of Liver Gastroenterology and Pancreaticobiliary Sciences at the hospital.

According to a statement shared by the hospital, CMV exists in 80-90% of the Indian population in asymptomatic form as the body’s immunity is usually strong enough to make it asymptomatic.

“Covid infection itself and the medicines used for its treatment (steroids) do suppress impunity of patients and make them susceptible for uncommon infections with varied presentations… In our series, all patients presented with low lymphocyte count (6%-10% as against a normal of 20%-40%) indicating Covid-induced suppression of immunity, predisposing them to symptomatic reactivation of CMV infection,” the statement from the hospital read.

The cases were seen in people ranging from 30 years old to 70 years old. All were from Delhi, and while four presented with blood in stools, one presented with intestinal obstruction.

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