PURPOSE: To evaluate the relationship between blood and urine cultures for cytomegalovirus and clinical outcomes in patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis. METHODS: Prospective epidemiologic study of 108 patients with newly diagnosed cytomegalovirus retinitis. Blood and urine were cultured for cytomegalovirus at diagnosis of retinitis, at 1 month and 3 months after diagnosis, and every 3 months thereafter. RESULTS: Of the patients, 80.6% were found to have either a positive blood culture or urine culture for cytomegalovirus at the time of diagnosis of retinitis, and a positive blood culture at diagnosis was associated with an increased mortality (odds ratio = 1.91, P = .012). Follow-up cultures were positive in approximately 20% of patients, and the rate was constant over time. The development of a positive blood or urine culture during follow-up correlated with the occurrence of cytomegalovirus retinitis in the contralateral eye in those patients with unilateral disease at diagnosis (odds ratio = 5.74, P = .001). CONCLUSIONS: Patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis and positive blood cultures for cytomegalovirus have a poorer prognosis.
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