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Journal of Crohn's and Colitis: 9 (8)


Laurence J. Egan, Ireland

Associate Editors

Maria T. Abreu, USAShomron Ben-Horin, IsraelSilvio Danese, ItalyPeter Lakatos, HungaryMiles Parkes, UKGijs van den Brink, NLSéverine Vermeire, Belgium


Published on behalf of

European evidence-based Consensus on the prevention, diagnosis and management of opportunistic infections in inflammatory bowel disease

J.F. Rahier, S. Ben-Horin, Y. Chowers, C. Conlon, P. De Munter, G. D'Haens, E. Domènech, R. Eliakim, A. Eser, J. Frater, M. Gassull, M. Giladi, A. Kaser, M. Lemann Lémann, T. Moreels, A. Moschen, R. Pollok, W. Reinisch, M. Schunter, E.F. Stange, H. Tilg, G. Van Assche, N. Viget, B. Vucelic, A. Walsh, G. Weiss, Y. Yazdanpanah, Y. Zabana, S.P.L. Travis, J.F. Colombel,
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.crohns.2009.02.010 47-91 First published online: 1 June 2009
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Opportunistic infections
  • Prevention
  • Vaccination

1 Introduction

The treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been revolutionised over the past decade by the increasing use of immunomodulators, mainly azathioprine (AZA)/6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) and methotrexate (MTX), together with the advent of biological therapy. Immunomodulators are being used more often and earlier in the course of the disease.1 The introduction of biologic agents, especially inhibitors of the key proinflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) initiated a new therapeutic era, whose use has grown continuously since their introduction in 1998.2 With such immunomodulation, the potential for opportunistic infection is a key safety concern for patients with IBD.

Opportunistic infections pose particular problems for the clinician: they are often difficult to recognise and are associated with appreciable morbidity or mortality, because they are potentially serious and hard to treat effectively. Enhancing awareness and improving the knowledge of gastroenterologists about opportunistic infections are important elements to optimise patient outcomes through the development of preventive or early diagnostic strategies.

A long list of opportunistic infections has been described in patients with IBD. Many questions remain unanswered, not only concerning the need for screening, preventive measures or the best diagnostic approach, but also on appropriate treatment and management of immunomodulator therapy once infection occurs. This led the European Crohn's and Colitis Organisation (ECCO) to establish a Consensus meeting on opportunistic infections in IBD. The formal process of a Consensus meeting has been described,3 but the purpose is to quantify expert opinion in the context of a systematic review of existing evidence. To organise the work, infections were classified into six major topics (see plan). Specific questions were asked for each infectious agent. The different topics were distributed to working groups that comprised junior and senior gastroenterologists with infectious disease experts. Each group performed a systematic review of the literature and answered …

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