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Low White Blood Cell Count and Infection

If you have any symptoms, call your care team right away. Infections can be very harmful if you are having infusions.
If your temperature is 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, call your doctor right away at
215-728-4300 or 215-728-6900 (evenings, weekends and holidays).

In addition to killing cancer cells in the body, infusion treatments
can damage healthy cells. White blood cells help your body fight off sickness and infection. During infusion treatments, you may have less white blood cells in your body. This makes it easier for you to get an infection.
Symptoms of infection include:

  • Temperature of
    100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Shaking
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • A very bad cough
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Urinating often and/or burning when you urinate
  • Redness, swelling or tenderness, especially around a pimple, wound, sore, ostomy, rectal area or catheter site
  • Any white patches, ulcers or sores in the mouth

Tips for preventing infection include:

Bathroom and Hygiene
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom.
  • After a bowel movement, wipe yourself from front to back.
  • Check with your treatment team before using suppositories or enemas.
  • For women:
  • Use pads instead of tampons.
  • Do not douche.
  • Rinse your mouth before and after meals.
  • Brush your teeth using a soft toothbrush after meals.
Interpersonal Contact
  • Stay away from people who have colds, the flu or known infections.
  • Do not go to crowded public places.
  • Carry hand sanitizer with you at all times and use it often.
  • Do not clean pet cages and feces.
  • Humidifiers may be used with caution. Be sure to clean filters every day.
  • Check with your treatment team before getting immunizations and dental work.
  • Stay away from people who recently had “live virus” vaccines.
Cooking and Eating
  • Wash your hands before and after touching food and before eating.
  • Wash and peel uncooked raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay away from unpasteurized foods and drinks, including unpasteurized dairy products, cider and juice.
  • Cook meat and eggs fully.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked fish and shellfish.
  • Do not drink unboiled well water.
  • Do not drink or eat miso or tempeh products.
  • Do not drink cold or warm maté tea (tea made from the South American yerba maté plant).
  • Do not eat raw honey, honey in the comb, raw nuts, or nuts in a shell.
Skin Cut and Scrape Prevention
  • Use lotions or oils for dry skin.
  • Use lip balm to prevent dry and cracking lips.
  • Do not go barefoot around your home.
  • Clean cuts and scrapes right away and often with warm water, soap and an antiseptic.
  • Use an electric shaver instead of a razor.
  • Wear gloves to garden or wash dishes.

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