On a recent afternoon in the hospital, a nurse pulls out a patient’s blood test results.
It’s from last week, the day after she’d had her second blood transfusion.
“She was so happy to have it,” the nurse says.
The nurse pulls the test sheet from the patient’s drawer and points to the first one: an abnormal green color on her arm.
The other two are normal.
“I can’t explain,” she says.
But the nurse has a good reason for thinking that one is an early warning sign for the next.
The patient’s test results were just the latest in a series of strange occurrences for her, according to a new report from the University of Utah Health Sciences Center.
“The nurse had seen that a number of the patients she’d seen in her clinical practice had come in with a positive result for an unusual virus,” the report says.
“A number of those patients had been admitted to the hospital with severe respiratory symptoms.
It was unclear whether the patients had any underlying health issues or were otherwise at risk.”
The nurse was so concerned about the patient that she went to the doctor and asked him to take her test.
It turned out that the patient was a former patient of the hospital who’d recently had a blood transfuse.
The doctor said that it was “very unlikely” that the virus had caused the illness.
But it didn’t matter.
“If the nurse had called the hospital immediately and said, ‘I’m going to take this patient to the emergency room,’ that would have been different,” says Michael C. Schreiber, an associate professor of epidemiology at the university who co-authored the study.
“We know that a positive test results are a very good indicator that something is going on.”
And the patient, a 28-year-old man with a history of respiratory illness, was lucky to be alive.
“It’s a very common condition,” says Schreib, who has been studying viral transmission at the hospital for more than a decade.
“There are so many patients who are getting infected with it, that there’s not much that we can do about it.”
What we know so far About 10% of infected people will die.
Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and sore throat.
“They’re coughing up blood, they’re vomiting, they have a lot of mucus,” Schrerib says.
This virus can spread from one person to another through coughing, sneezing, sharing the same bed or being close to someone else.
“These are the very people who have the highest incidence of infection,” he says.
If it gets to a hospital, the symptoms can be very difficult to detect, and even harder to treat.
“What we’re trying to do is to make sure that if we do get a diagnosis, we know what we’re dealing with,” Schrib says.
And the hospital is taking steps to improve infection-control protocols.
A recent policy from the hospital says that nurses who are infected can’t be admitted to patients, or give blood to them.
The policy also includes a rule that says that blood donations must be donated by a designated person.
“Any hospital patient with a confirmed case of HSV-2 must undergo a thorough physical examination and a thorough interview by a health care provider,” the policy says.
Schriber says the policy could help save lives.
“That’s the goal, is to have all hospitals that are currently infected have the virus under control and to have people not come into contact with them,” he said.
“So if we can identify a patient who’s infected, then they won’t get that infection and they won, of course, die.”
It’s not clear how the virus got into the hospital or what happened to the patient.
But Schreiba says it’s unlikely that this particular case of viral transmission is widespread.
“In general, I don’t think that you can say that we’re seeing a lot more cases of virus spreading into hospitals than we’re finding cases,” he told CNN Health.
But in some instances, it could be the difference between life and death.
“One of the reasons that we see such high levels of hospital infections in the United States is because we’re so dependent on the health care system,” Schrab said.
A nurse who was infected with HSV may have passed it on to another nurse who had a high fever and had to be admitted because she was coughing up more blood, or a hospital patient who had respiratory symptoms that were not related to HSV.
That’s not uncommon.
Schrab says that even if the virus has not spread, it’s important to treat the patient as soon as possible, even if that means taking him to the ER or going to the nearest emergency room.
“You need to get him to a health clinic, to an urgent care center,” he explained. “This is