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IBD and viral infections

Young patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are five times more likely than the general population to develop viral infections that can lead to hospitalisation or organ damage.

The claim comes from a study in which researchers analysed almost 2,700 IBD patients in a Paris referral centre to understand the respective roles of IBD activity and drugs in promoting systemic serious viral infection (SVI).

The study identified clinically active IBD and thiopurines (a class of immunomodulators used to treat an estimated 60% of IBD patients) as the main drivers of infection.

Despite the highest risk of infection being seen in young patients between the ages of 18 and 35, a three-fold increased incidence of severe viral infections was observed in IBD patients of all ages.

The study also uncovered a concerning link between thiopurine use and a number of harmful infections. While IBD patients receiving no treatment were at a similar risk level to the general population, patients treated with immunomodulators were found to be six times more likely to develop an SVI.

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Picture Credit | iStock

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