Treatments used in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) have been associated with enhanced risk of viral infections and viral reactivation, however, it remains unclear whether IBD patients have increased risk of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The aim of the study was to examine the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 IgG positivity in IBD patients followed at our referral center. The role of treatments for IBD and risk factors for infection were also evaluated.
In a prospective study, all IBD patients followed at our referral centre between May 27th and July 21st, 2020 and fulfilling the inclusion criteria were tested for SARS-CoV-2 IgG. Specific IgG antibodies were evaluated by a commercial ELISA kit and SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal swab was performed in seropositive patients.
Two-hundred and eighteen patients, 128 Crohn’s disease (CD) and 90 Ulcerative colitis (UC) [age 44, (19-77) years; ongoing biologics in 115 (52.7%)] were enrolled. No patient had major SARS-CoV-2-related symptoms. SARS-CoV-2 IgG were detected in 3 out of 218 (1.37%) patients with IBD (2 CD and 1 UC), all on biologics (2.6%). In all of the 3 seropositive patients, the nasopharyngeal swab was negative. There was no relationship between SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence and the demographic/clinical characteristics of IBD patients. In contrast, history of recent travel was more frequent in the SARS-CoV-2 seropositive patients (2/3; 66.6%) than in SARS-CoV-2 seronegative patients [7/215 (3.25%); p<0.0001].
The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 IgG seropositivity in IBD patients appears to be comparable to the non-IBD population and not influenced by ongoing treatments. Risk factors for infection common to the general non-IBD population should be considered when managing patients with IBD.