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Definition of Opportunistic Infections in Immunocompromised Children on the Basis of Etiologies and Clinical Features: A Summary for Practical Purposes

[ Vol. 15 , Issue. 4 ]


Niccolò Riccardi*, Gioacchino Andrea Rotulo and Elio Castagnola   Pages 197 - 206 ( 10 )


Opportunistic Infections (OIs) still remain a major cause of morbidity and death in children with either malignant or nonmalignant disease.

OIs are defined as those infections occurring due to bacteria, fungi, viruses or commensal organisms that normally inhabit the human body and do not cause a disease in healthy people, but become pathogenic when the body's defense system is impaired. OIs can also be represented by unusually severe infections caused by common pathogens. An OI could present itself at the onset of a primary immunodeficiency syndrome as a life-threatening event. More often, OI is a therapyassociated complication in patients needing immunosuppressive treatment, among long-term hospitalised patients or in children who undergo bone marrow or solid organ transplantation.

The aim of the present review is to provide a comprehensive and ‘easy to read’ text that briefly summarises the currently available knowledge about OIs in order to define when an infection should be considered as opportunistic in pediatrics as a result of an underlying congenital or acquired immune-deficit.


Opportunistic infections, children, immunocompromised host, etiology, pathogenic, immune-deficit, malignant.


Infectious Diseases Clinic, Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, University of Genoa, Genoa, Infectious Diseases Department, Istituto Giannina Gaslini Children's Hospital, University of Genoa, Geno, Infectious Diseases Department, Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Children's Hospital, Genoa

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