Infectious disease evaluation of infants and children awaiting solid organ or hematopoietic stem cell transplant





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Basic principles of the infectious disease pretransplant evaluation


The pretransplant infectious disease evaluation represents the first step in a long continuum of infection prevention that extends into the posttransplant period. This evaluation is a critical element in the pretransplant process and should be performed as early as possible, ideally as soon as a child is considered for transplant. The overall objectives of infectious disease evaluation are to (1) identify and mitigate infectious complications that may result in delay of transplant; (2) identify risk factors that may affect perioperative management; (3) identify posttransplant prevention strategies for specific risks; and (4) begin the discussion of long-term strategies for safer living in the posttransplant period. The evaluation should be comprehensive and not limited to basic serologic screening. A key guiding principle is that pretransplant screening tests should be performed to address those infections that may increase the risk of posttransplant complications and that will prompt specific intervention either in the pretransplant or posttransplant period. A dedicated infectious disease evaluation before transplant is a critical opportunity to review all prior and current infections and antimicrobial use that are likely to affect the transplant course and management, including unrecognized or latent infections.


It is especially important that pediatric transplant candidates receive an infectious disease review that is family-centered and considers occupational and recreational exposures not only for the transplant candidate but also for all other household contacts. Household water sources and dietary habits should be reviewed to identify risk factors such as well water exposure or ingestion of uncooked meat or fish. Travel history and animal exposures should be reviewed and discussed. For families with pets, guidance for living with animals after transplant is available through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and should also be discussed. Children who live in areas of higher tuberculosis (TB) prevalence and/or who live in households with adults with active TB infection are at high risk for acquisition of TB infection before and after transplant. TB risk factors should be reviewed for all household contacts, with additional TB screening and treatment measures for household contacts as indicated, as discussed in more detail in the following text.


Pretransplant infectious disease evaluation also provides an important opportunity to review and update immunizations for both the transplant candidate and household contacts. It is important to note that live attenuated vaccines for varicella, measles, mumps, and rubella are not contraindicated for household contacts of transplanted children, and ensuring that household contacts are fully immunized is a critical preventative strategy for children who receive transplants and who may be susceptible secondary to incomplete immunization or waning immunity after immunization. This “cocoon” immunization strategy is essential for household contacts of pediatric transplant candidates and recipients during influenza season.


The risk of donor-derived infection should also be discussed as part of the infectious disease pretransplant evaluation. This is a complex and multifaceted conversation that may be best approached across multiple visits with both an infectious disease consultant and the primary transplant team. Although families and providers alike are often concerned about the potential risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis transmission via donors who are considered to be at either routine or increased risk by U.S. Public Health Service criteria, it is also important to discuss the risk of other donor-derived infections, both unanticipated and expected. This includes infections for which donors may be screened ( Strongyloides stercoralis , Toxoplasma gondii , Trypanosoma cruzi ) but also for donor infections that may be unrecognized at the time of transplant. Risk and implications of donor-derived infections that are often anticipated, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), should also be discussed, especially for transplant candidates who are presumed to be uninfected by these viruses based on pretransplant screening serology.


The first step in the pretransplant infectious disease evaluation of both pediatric solid organ transplant (SOT) and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) candidates is a comprehensive review of how the child’s underlying disease affects their risk of infection before and after transplant. For transplant candidates with a history of malignancy, the status of the child’s disease should be documented (remission or relapse), and prior chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimens should be reviewed. Both HSCT and SOT candidates may have a history of exposure to immunosuppressive agents, such as glucocorticoids or anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody; therefore recent serum immune globulin levels and quantitative lymphocyte subsets should be reviewed as indicated. The presence of a foreign body, prosthetic material, or structural abnormality (central venous or hemodialysis catheter, prosthetic joint, vascular graft, ureteral stent, hemodialysis graft fistula) should be documented. Prior imaging should be reviewed to assess for lung nodules, calcified granulomas, or cavitary lesions that may prompt further investigation before transplant.


Review of the child’s underlying disease is followed by a comprehensive review of all prior and current infections and bacterial colonization history. Pediatric transplant candidates with a history of malignancy may have a history of bacteremia or invasive fungal infection), and children awaiting HSCT for primary immune deficiency may have an extensive history of opportunistic infections. Kidney transplant candidates may have a history of urinary tract infection, and hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis recipients are at higher risk for catheter-related bacteremia and peritonitis, respectively. Hardware-associated infections may develop in heart transplant recipients who require ventricular assist device support, and ascending cholangitis or peritonitis may develop in children with liver failure. Lung transplant candidates with cystic fibrosis may have a history of respiratory colonization with multidrug- or extensively drug-resistant organisms such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa , Burkholderia cepacia , and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia . Thus special attention should be paid to prior bacterial culture and susceptibility results, as well as to prior antimicrobial utilization. Baseline sputum cultures are recommended for lung transplant candidates to identify colonizing organisms and their antimicrobial susceptibility patterns.


For transplant candidates who have a poorly documented history of allergic reaction to a specific antimicrobial, this history should be clarified. Formal allergy consultation should be completed as needed before transplant. Dental history should also be reviewed, and ideally, candidates should undergo complete dental evaluation and appropriate intervention before transplant.


Infectious disease screening of the pediatric solid organ transplant candidate


Screening tests that are routinely recommended for pediatric SOT recipients, including those that are used to assess for latent infection or vaccine-induced immunity, are outlined in Box 4.1 . In interpreting serology results, the provider should consider the following variables: (1) the candidate’s history of blood product or immune globulin infusion; (2) the candidate’s age (serology results in infants may reflect passive transfer of maternal antibody); (3) the immunosuppressive agents administered before transplant, such as corticosteroids or anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody; and (4) the inherent limitations of some screening assays, such as the inability of some assays to detect acute infection.



BOX 4.1

Routine Screening Recommendations for Pediatric Solid Organ and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Candidates


Chart and history review





  • Document current and prior infections, including antimicrobial susceptibility patterns



  • Document current and prior antimicrobial use, including suspected or documented allergic reactions



  • Review travel history, animal exposures, occupational and recreational exposures for candidate and household contacts



  • Review immunization history for transplant candidate and all household contacts



Serologic screening a





  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) serology b



  • Hepatitis B surface antigen, b hepatitis B core IgG, b hepatitis B surface antibody



  • Hepatitis C IgG b



  • Hepatitis A IgG



  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) IgG (CMV PCR from urine or saliva for infants)



  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) EBV capsid IgG and IgM, consider anti-EBV nuclear antigen IgG



  • Toxoplasma IgG for all heart transplant and allogeneic/stem cell transplant candidates, consider for non-heart SOT and autologous stem cell candidates



  • Measles IgG



  • Varicella IgG



Additional screening measures





  • Review of tuberculosis risk factors and tuberculin skin test/interferon gamma release assay (with chest radiograph if indicated)



  • Sputum Gram stain and culture for lung transplant candidates



  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) 1 and 2 IgG for hematopoietic stem cell transplant candidates



  • Respiratory virus testing for allogeneic stem cell transplant candidates, if symptoms are present



  • Syphilis screening for infants and at-risk adolescents



  • Sexually transmitted infection screening for adolescents



  • Pelvic examination with Pap smear and human papillomavirus screening for sexually active adolescent females




Interpretation of infant serology results may be complicated by passive transfer of maternal antibody.


HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C serologic testing is required for all solid organ transplant candidates per U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network policy. IgG, immunoglobulin G; PCR, polymerase chain reaction; SOT, solid organ transplant.




HIV and hepatitis screening


Current policy of the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network mandates screening for HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B for all SOT candidates, independent of age. This screening is typically performed by serologic testing. Serologic testing for hepatitis B should include hepatitis B surface antigen, hepatitis B core immunoglobulin (IgG), and hepatitis B surface antibody, although the latter is not mandated. False-positive results for hepatitis C antibody screening are well described, particularly in low-prevalence populations. Positive results for hepatitis C antibody screening should be confirmed by hepatitis C ribonucleic acid viral load and potentially additional screening methods, depending on the patient’s risk factors. HIV and hepatitis B nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) may also be used to confirm positive serologic test results.


Documentation of hepatitis B immunity by either qualitative or quantitative hepatitis B surface antibody is important for determining risk stratification and the possible need for hepatitis B prophylaxis should the candidate receive an organ from a donor who has positive hepatitis B core antibody test results with negative results for hepatitis B surface antigen. For candidates who are found to be nonimmune to hepatitis B, a primary hepatitis B vaccine series or booster vaccine doses should be administered, and immunity should be reassessed upon completion of vaccination or before transplant, whichever occurs first. Higher doses of vaccine may be required for transplant recipients receiving hemodialysis, although data are limited in this area for children. It is also important to note that administration of hepatitis B vaccine can result in transient detection of hepatitis B surface antigen; thus testing for hepatitis B surface antigen shortly after immunization is not recommended. Hepatitis A serology and immunization history should be recorded, and hepatitis A vaccine should be administered as needed.


Herpesvirus screening


CMV (IgG) and EBV (capsid IgG and IgM) serology studies are typically used for transplant candidates to stratify the risk for posttransplant complications and to determine the relative need for prophylactic (CMV) and preemptive monitoring (CMV, EBV) strategies. IgG antibody to EBV nuclear antibody may also be helpful in assessing humoral immune response to past EBV infection. Unfortunately, the utility of a positive CMV or EBV serologic result is limited in infants younger than 12 months whose positive serology results may reflect passive transfer of maternal antibody. CMV NAAT (or viral culture based assay) from urine or saliva is recommended for infants, although a negative test result does not definitively exclude prior infection ( Box 4.1 and Table 4.1 ). Infants with a negative CMV NAAT result from urine or saliva or a negative CMV urine culture should be considered CMV naïve upon receipt of a CMV-seropositive organ ( Table 4.1 ). It may also be prudent to consider all infants who receive an EBV-seropositive donor organ to be EBV naïve (recipient seronegative) for risk stratification purposes ( Table 4.1 ).


Jun 25, 2020 | Posted by in GENERAL & FAMILY MEDICINE | Comments Off on Infectious disease evaluation of infants and children awaiting solid organ or hematopoietic stem cell transplant
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