The majority of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) achieve good control of the inflammatory activity using available therapies. When remission is achieved and quality of life recovered, a considerable proportion of IBD patients express their desire to travel abroad, be it for business, academic or leisure purposes. Their physicians should help and encourage them whenever possible. However, preventive measures are warranted to minimize the risk, since IBD patients are exposed to the same infections affecting the general population, plus opportunistic infections (OI) related to the immunosuppression. There are a large number of potential OI that might affect patients with IBD. The true prevalence of these infections is unknown, and can vary from country to country. Therefore, reactivation or de novo acquisition of infections such as tuberculosis, malaria, and viral hepatitis will be much more frequent in endemic areas. Therefore, physicians should be aware of these aspects when planning specific preventive measures for patients traveling to a particular country. This includes good control of environmental exposure, chemoprophylaxis when indicated, and the use of a specific vaccination program to prevent endemic infections. In addition, it should be noted that, though the risk of acquiring an infectious disease is probably greater for IBD patients traveling from a developed to a developing country, the inverse situation can also occur; it depends on the previous acquired immunity of the host against infections in any particular environment.
Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease; Opportunistic infections; Vaccination.