Viral Infections in Burns

John L. Kiley*, Kevin K. Chung, Dana M. Blyth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Viral infections after burns are less common than bacterial infections but usually occur in the more severely burned patients and have been associated with poor outcomes. Methods: Retrospective reviews and case series were examined to provide an overview of the management of viral infections in the burn patient. Results: The most common viral pathogens in these patients are the herpesviruses, which include herpes simplex, varicella zoster, cytomegalovirus, and human herpesvirus 6. Established viral infections that may complicate patient management include human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B and C, and, more recently, the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Herpesvirus infections can occur as primary or nosocomial pathogens but clinical manifestations most commonly are re-activation of latent viral infection. Because of the paucity of data in the burn population, much of the evidence for specific treatments is extrapolated from patients with severe immunosuppression or critical illness. Antiviral therapy is employed for the burn patient with herpesvirus infections. This is an area of active study, and further research is needed to better understand the risks, clinical manifestations, and attributable morbidity and mortality of viral infections. Conclusions: Major burn injury results in immunosuppression and viral infection in a small number of patients. Recognition and antiviral therapy are employed, but additional studies are necessary to improve outcomes in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-94
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical Infections
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • SARTs-Co-V-2 virus
  • antiviral drugs
  • burns
  • cytomegalovirus
  • herpes simplex virus
  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • varicella zoster virus


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