One need not look far in the contemporary literature of internal medicine, surgery, or pediatrics to find the term immunocompromised host or some variant of this expression used to connote the patient with impaired host defenses who is at risk of developing an opportunistic infection. Depressingly, this in part reflects the increasing public, medical, and scientific concern with the unprecedented epidemic of opportunistic infection and malignancy, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is spreading throughout the world. More optimistically, this in part reflects major advances in the use of immunosuppressive therapy for organ transplantation, in the treatment of a variety of autoimmune conditions, and in the management of malignant disease. Because of these advances, there is an increasing population of patients who are no longer succumbing quickly to their primary disease (be it chronic renal failure, intractable heart failure, cancer, aplastic anemia, or collagen disease) and who now have the potential for many years of productive life. The price for their survival has been the creation of large numbers of patients with major defects in host defense. For many of these patients, infection—not their primary illness—has become the major cause of mortality.
KeywordsOpportunistic Infection Aplastic Anemia Collagen Disease Febrile Neutropenic Patient Scientific Concern
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.