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Patient's Guide to Heart Transplant Surgery

Other ''Opportunistic'' Infections

"Opportunistic" infections are caused by the normal bacteria, viruses, and fungi that float around in the air or normally live on your skin. Immunosuppressive drugs block the immune cells' ability to attack these foreign objects that a normal person is able to fend off. As a result, viruses, bacteria, and fungi take advantage of you and cause infections. Some of the common opportunistic infections are pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), cytomegalovirus pneumonia (CMV), herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores, and herpes zoster virus that causes shingles.

An important sign of these infections is a fever of 100°F or higher for more than 4 hours or a sudden high fever of 101°F or higher. If you have either of these signs, you must call us at the transplant office immediately and tell us.

If you have never had or cannot remember having had the mumps, measles, or chicken pox and you become exposed to any one of these, you must tell us about the exposure immediately by calling us at the transplant office. These diseases are extremely dangerous to transplant patients taking immunosuppressive drugs. Special immunizations may be required within 72 hours after exposure. If you are not sure whether you had any of these diseases as a child, we can do blood tests that tell us whether you did or not.



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