Opportunistic Infections

  • Serena R. Martin
  • Robert V. Bryant


The treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been revolutionised over the past decade by the increasing use of immunomodulators and biologic therapy. Immunosuppression associated with use of these agents introduces the potential for opportunistic infection, which is a key safety concern for IBD patients and their carers. An opportunistic infection is one that is caused by a microorganism that is not harmful under ordinary circumstances but which causes serious disease in a predisposed person with a reduced capacity to fight the infection. Viral, bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections have all been associated with the use of immunosuppressive therapy in IBD. Opportunistic infections in IBD are associated with appreciable morbidity and mortality, because they are often difficult to recognise, potentially serious, and hard to treat effectively. The IBD nurse can play an important role in preventing opportunistic infections, through identification of those patients at risk. Moreover, the IBD nurse is integral to the implementation of screening and vaccination programmes for opportunistic infections in IBD patients, as well as in providing education and counselling around this important topic.


Inflammatory bowel disease Opportunistic infection 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Serena R. Martin
    • 1
  • Robert V. Bryant
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.IBD Service, Department of GastroenterologyThe Queen Elizabeth HospitalAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.School of Medicine, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia

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