What Are Transplant-Related Infections?
Recipients of transplanted organs take anti-rejection medications to suppress their immune system and prevent it from rejecting the new organ. A suppressed immune system—one that has fewer white blood cells—raises the risk of getting infections and having difficulty fighting them. Anti-rejection medications can also prevent your body from responding well to vaccines.
Minor infections are common after a transplant. They can become serious if you have other chronic conditions that increase the risk of infection, including lung disease, diabetes or heart disease.
A transplant patient can get nearly any type of infection caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, but certain infections are of particular concern. They include:
- Encephalitis (infection of the brain)
- Meningitis (infection of the brain or spinal cord)
- JC virus (causes progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- West Nile virus
- Cryptococcal and other fungal infections
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (a fatal brain disorder)
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV or mononucleosis)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- (HTLV) I/II
- Polyomavirus (BKV) (a cold-like virus that stays in your system after childhood)
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
Infections are the top reason transplant patients are hospitalized in the first two years after transplant. It is very important that you try to prevent infection and watch for signs of infection. Report any signs of infection to your physician immediately.