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Preventing Post-Transplant Infections

Risk of Infection | Catching a Cold | Preventing Infection | Infection Symptoms

Your immunosuppressant medications, which are necessary to prevent rejection, reduce your ability to fight infections. This does not require you to avoid contact with people. By making some changes in your activity and life style, you can significantly reduce your risks of acquiring infections. You must consider the risks, remembering that it will be easier for you to acquire an infection and harder to fight it off.

Various recommendations are given below. However, new infections post transplant surgery may present themselves at any time. Remember to call your transplant coordinator for advice when such situations arise, such as contamination in local water supplies. Some actions you can take to decrease your risk of post transplant infection include:

  • Maintain your general health with proper nutrition, rest, exercise, and stress reduction.
  • Avoid people with infections, especially those with active viral infections such as chicken pox, mumps, measles, mononucleosis, tuberculosis, colds, or flu.
  • Take your medications to prevent infection as prescribed.
  • Call your transplant coordinator with any signs of infection.
  • Take the recommended antibiotics before and after dental work or other invasive procedures. Call your coordinator before these procedures are done.
  • Follow the recommended food safety guidelines.
  • Practice good hand washing, especially before eating, after touching objects that carry micro-organisms (money, door knobs, public telephones), and after using the bathroom.
  • In public facilities, turn off the water with a paper towel after drying your hands. Use care to touch the faucet or handles with your clean hands. If no paper towels are available, use your elbows or backs of hands, if possible.
  • Remember to scrub with soap for at least 10 seconds, rubbing between fingers.
  • Avoid compost piles, construction sites, damp hay, decaying plants, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Wear gloves when you could be exposing small cuts in your hands to potentially dangerous micro-organisms, such as gardening.
  • Wear shoes when walking outside to prevent exposing cuts in feet to microorganisms in soil.
  • Cover your body, including arms and legs, when hiking.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if your hands are not clean
  • Do not receive any live vaccinations. Avoid anyone who has received an oral polio vaccine for eight weeks. You may call your coordinator to check if a vaccine is safe.
  • Get tetanus shots, as needed (animal bites, dirty cuts).
  • Get flu shot yearly in the fall. These are not live vaccines.
  • Do not share razors, toothbrushes, or eating and drinking utensils.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Avoid drinking well water. Use bottled water or boil water for 10 minutes if there is a question of contamination.
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