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Infectious causes of neutropenia

Thomas D Coates, MD
Section Editor
Peter Newburger, MD
Deputy Editor
Alan G Rosmarin, MD


Neutropenia can be caused by infection with microorganisms. Conversely, neutropenia can lead to infection, typically from bacterial organisms. A number of different mechanisms are involved, including infection of hematopoietic precursor cells, infection of endothelial cells, increased neutrophil adherence to endothelium, development of antineutrophil antibodies, and enhanced neutrophil utilization at the site of infection associated with hypersplenism. Drugs given to treat these infections may also cause neutropenia. (See "Drug-induced neutropenia and agranulocytosis".)

This review will discuss the neutropenias that can occur during bacterial, viral, parasitic, or rickettsial infections. Approaches to determining the cause of unexplained neutropenia in children and adults are presented separately. (See "Overview of neutropenia in children and adolescents" and "Approach to the adult with unexplained neutropenia".)

Infections in patients with neutropenia can range from mild to life-threatening, depending on the cause of the neutropenia. Fever in a neutropenic patient is considered a medical emergency unless the patient is known to be low risk. This issue is discussed separately.

(See "Overview of neutropenic fever syndromes".)

(See "Risk of infection in children with fever and non-chemotherapy-induced neutropenia".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 16, 2016.
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