Introduction

Neutrophils play a vital role in the immunological defense system of the body, particularly against bacteria but also against fungi and viruses. Consequently, impairment in neutrophil function, either qualitative or quantitative, results in an increased susceptibility to infection. These infections can disseminate rapidly and, if not treated promptly or appropriately, can be fatal. With the widespread use of myelosuppressive agents for the treatment of malignancies, and in a variety of autoimmune conditions, the incidence of neutropenia and associated infection is on the increase ( BeutlerJ99.5). Therefore it is essential that clinicians are familiar with both the unusual infections that occur in these patients and the manner in which the underlying disease and/or its therapy can modify the clinical presentation. This chapter focuses on the infective complications of neutropenia.

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