Do you have an immune disorder and are you going on a trip? On this page you will find information to consider before and during your trip.
Travelling with an immune disorder
A well-functioning immune system protects the body against pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. If you have an immune disorder (immune deficiency), the immune system does not work properly. This makes you more susceptible to infections. An immune disorder can be congenital or develop later in life.
People with immune disorders are especially vulnerable and have an increased risk of contracting certain diseases and infections. Some diseases can also become more severe. It is therefore especially important to prepare a (distant) journey well in advance. Very rarely, you may even have to change your travel destination.
Your immune system may be weakened by a disease, such as cancer or HIV. Certain medications can also lower the functioning of the immune system. These medicines are called ‘immunosuppressants’. Drugs that lower the function of your immune system are often given for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or chronic intestinal inflammation. Examples of immunosuppressants are prednisone, methotrexate or azathioprine. When you have (had) chemotherapy for cancer, your immune system is often also temporarily weakened.
There are different types of immune disorders and the severity of the immune disorder can also vary widely. The type and severity of the immune disorder determine the level of risk and the measures that should be taken.
Do you have any of the following chronic conditions? Or have you recently been treated for one of these? If so, you are more likely to get a serious infection when travelling abroad:
- Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- HIV / AIDS
- Cancer, Kahler disease (multiple myeloma), chronic lymphatic leukaemia (CLL) or (non)Hodgkin lymphoma
- No spleen or impaired spleen function
- Rheumatoid arthritis, SLE or other rheumatic diseases
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Organ transplantation
IMMUNE DISORDERS IN COMBINATION WITH VACCINATIONS
If you have an immune disorder, the effect of vaccinations is sometimes less certain. An additional blood test is therefore sometimes recommended. You also run a higher risk of complications with some vaccines.
In addition, you cannot get all vaccinations, including live attenuated vaccines. The benefits and dangers of vaccination must be weighed against each other by you and your doctor. Sometimes additional vaccinations are also advised and you may need to be referred to the tuberculosis control department because of an increased risk of tuberculosis.
Sometimes vaccinatiecentrum.nl refers you back to your doctor for additional vaccinations. These are not vaccinations that you need for your trip, but to which you are entitled because of your condition, even if you were not travelling. These include the vaccines against influenza (flu), meningococcal, pneumococcal and Hib.
Do you have current or future travel plans and have yet to start immunosuppressant drugs? If so, get vaccinated before starting the immunosuppressive drugs.
IMMUNE DISORDERS AND MALARIA
In areas with malaria where anti-mosquito measures or emergency treatment are adequate for healthy travellers, a different advice applies for some travellers with chronic medical conditions. The advice in these cases is to always use the most effective malaria prophylaxis and anti-mosquito measures. The traveller’s nurse at vaccinatiecentrum will assess which measures apply to you.
IMMUNE DISORDERS AND ANTIBIOTICS
When travelling with a chronic condition, it is sometimes necessary to bring a course of antibiotics to treat diarrhoea. Always carry the antibiotics with you, so first in your hand luggage and then in your backpack or handbag. It is also wise to take a medical passport with you, which will ensure that you receive appropriate treatment if necessary.
For travellers with chronic illnesses, it is extra important to make an appointment on time (six weeks before departure). The traveller’s nurse will assess with you whether it is wise to take antibiotics with you.
TAILORED ADVICE FOR IMMUNE DISORDERS
For people with immune disorders, thorough travel preparation is especially important. Sometimes additional vaccinations, medications or precautions are highly recommended or even necessary.
Preferably make an appointment for the traveller’s consultation at least six weeks before departure. Sometimes consultation with your specialist or with a specialist centre is necessary.
Do you have any questions or would you like to make an appointment?
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment for personal (travel) advice, you can use the button below, email via email@example.com or call 085-9020303.