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Secondary infections


A secondary infection is an infection that occurs during or after treatment for another infection. It may be caused by the first treatment or by changes in the immune system.

Two examples of a secondary infection are:

  • Getting a vaginal yeast infection after taking antibiotics to treat an infection caused by bacteria
  • Developing pneumonia caused by bacteria after having an upper respiratory infection (like a cold) that was caused by a virus


Secondary infection
Immune system structures


Dorland's Online Medical Dictionary. Available at: Accessed Sept. 17, 2015.

Reid PT, Innes JA. Respiratory disease. In: Walker BR, Colledge NR, Ralston SH, Penman ID, eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2014:chap 19.

Review Date: 
Reviewed By: 
Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.