Summer is a season for travel, so if your immunocompromised patients plan to journey to regions where there are outbreaks of infections, such as chikungunya, tuberculosis, typhoid, yellow fever or other diseases, communication and preparation may prevent serious health events.
Explore this issueSeptember 2015
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“The world teems with disease-causing organisms, and almost every infection is more serious in the immunocompromised,” says Amesh A. Adalja, MD, FACP, FACEP, senior associate, Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and School of Medicine in Pittsburgh.
Whether for leisure or business, patients with autoimmune-related rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may want or need to travel to regions where infection risks may be high. However, these patients may be at significantly elevated risk for infections. A 2002 study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism looked at retrospective data on RA patients from 1955 to 1994 and found that this population’s infection risk was 19.64/100 person-years vs. 12.87/100 person-years for the general, healthy population.1 Both the effects of their disease on their immune systems and immunosuppressant agents, such as methotrexate or anti-tumor necrosis factor biologic drugs, may put them at especial risk for viral, bacteria or fungal infections that could be life threatening.