Notifiable Infectious Diseases Among Organ Transplant Recipients: A Data-Linked Cohort Study, 2000-2015

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2022 Aug 3;9(8):ofac337. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofac337. eCollection 2022 Aug.


Background: Infections, including common communicable infections such as influenza, frequently cause disease after organ transplantation, although the quantitative extent of infection and disease remains uncertain.

Methods: A cohort study was conducted to define the burden of notifiable infectious diseases among all solid organ recipients transplanted in New South Wales, Australia, 2000-2015. Data linkage was used to connect transplant registers to hospital admissions, notifiable diseases, and the death register. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated relative to general population notification rates, accounting for age, sex, and calendar year. Infection-related hospitalizations and deaths were identified.

Results: Among 4858 solid organ recipients followed for 39 183 person-years (PY), there were 792 notifications. Influenza was the most common infection (532 cases; incidence, 1358 [95% CI, 1247-1478] per 100 000 PY), highest within 3 months posttransplant. Next most common was salmonellosis (46 cases; incidence, 117 [95% CI, 87-156] per 100 000 PY), then pertussis (38 cases; incidence, 97 [95% CI, 71-133] per 100 000 PY). Influenza and invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) showed significant excess cases compared with the general population (influenza SIR, 8.5 [95% CI, 7.8-9.2]; IPD SIR, 9.8 [95% CI, 6.9-13.9]), with high hospitalization rates (47% influenza cases, 68% IPD cases) and some mortality (4 influenza and 1 IPD deaths). By 10 years posttransplant, cumulative incidence of any vaccine-preventable disease was 12%, generally similar by transplanted organ, except higher among lung recipients. Gastrointestinal diseases, tuberculosis, and legionellosis had excess cases among transplant recipients, although there were few sexually transmitted infections and vector-borne diseases.

Conclusions: There is potential to avoid preventable infections among transplant recipients with improved vaccination programs, health education, and pretransplant donor and recipient screening.

Keywords: gastrointestinal infections; immunosuppression; sexually transmitted infections; solid organ transplantation; vaccine-preventable infections.