In severely immunocompromized patients, the diagnosis of viral infections relies on PCR/RT-PCR-based methods. The availability of these modern diagnostic tools contributes to a timely diagnosis, and leads to an increasing knowledge about the epidemiology and the clinical spectrum of common and emerging viral pathogens in this highly susceptible population. Not only after stem cell transplantation but also during conventional chemotherapy viral infections may result in life threatening disease in pediatric cancer patients.
Often, clinical symptoms are a consequence of endogenous reactivation of latent viral infection. Many of these viruses are easily transmitted between patients, relatives and health care workers. Prolonged symptomatic and asymptomatic viral shedding is a common feature in pediatric cancer patients.
Thus, it is necessary to implement strategies for the prevention and control of these communicable pathogens in the hospital and in the outpatient clinic. Although no randomized controlled studies are available for pediatric cancer patients, physicians should be aware of potential treatment options since early treatment may prevent a complicated or fatal outcome and shorten the period of contagiosity.
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