We report the case of a 76-year-old man who presented with moderate active Crohn's colitis that was refractory to high-dose corticosteroids, mesalazine and 6-mercaptopurine. He subsequently received a trial of infliximab with poor response and was diagnosed with cytomegalovirus (CMV) colitis, improving on antiviral therapy. Three weeks into treatment he developed acute respiratory distress with hypoxaemia and diffuse pulmonary interstitial infiltrates. This was confirmed as Pneumocystis jirovecii on bronchoalveolar lavage. He responded well to treatment with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) and was subsequently discharged home. Despite the favourable outcome, our case raises the question of whether chemoprophylaxis against opportunistic infections in immunosuppressed patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is appropriate. There are currently no recommendations on providing chemoprophylaxis against CMV colitis and so we focus on pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) where wide debate surrounds the use of prophylactic TMP-SMX in HIV-negative patients. Contrasting approaches to chemoprophylaxis against PCP in IBD likely relates to a lack of clear parameters for defining risk of PCP among patient groups. This must be addressed in order to develop universal guidelines that take into account patient-dependent risk factors. Awareness of the severity of PCP among HIV-negative individuals and the current consensus on PCP prophylaxis in IBD must be raised in order to minimise the risk of PCP and drive research in this controversial area.
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