Has your spleen been removed and are you going on a trip? On this page you will find information to consider before and during your trip.
TRAVELLING WITHOUT A SPLEEN
The spleen is an organ that plays a role in the functioning of the immune system. It acts as a kind of filter that traps micro-organisms from the blood. When that function fails, some diseases can become much more severe or cause serious complications, such as blood poisoning.
There are several reasons why the spleen may not work properly or at all. The spleen may have been surgically removed completely or partially, for example after an accident or because of illness. If the spleen has been surgically removed, it is important to know at what age the spleen was removed, how long ago it was removed, what the reason for the spleen removal was, and whether the spleen was completely or partially removed.
In addition, the spleen may also not function or function not as well due to certain medical conditions. It is often difficult to determine the extent to which the spleen is still functioning properly. There are a number of causes that can lead to reduced spleen function, for example:
- Spleen injury due to trauma;
- Congenital asplenia;
- Sickle cell disease;
- Spleen infarction;
- Radiation of the spleen.
There are also other causes that increase the risk of reduced spleen function, for example:
- Stem cell transplantation;
- Severe forms of celiac disease;
- Severe forms of inflammatory bowel disease;
- Liver cirrhosis;
- Systemic lupus erythematosus or discoid lupus erythematosus;
- Haemolytic anaemias with extreme bleeding.
IMPAIRED SPLEEN FUNCTION AND VACCINATIONS
When travelling to areas with a high risk of meningococcal ACWY, vaccinations should be up-to-date.
There are also a number of diseases against which additional vaccination may be recommended:
- Meningococcal disease (ACWY and B);
- Haemophilus Influenzae type B. (Hib);
- Annual flu shot.
IMPAIRED SPLEEN FUNCTION AND ANTIBIOTICS
In some cases, it is recommended to have antibiotics with you. If you get a fever or if you are bitten by a dog or cat, you can start the antibiotics right away. If this applies to your situation, you should always have the first dose on you at all times. In addition, you should visit a doctor for further treatment within eight hours of starting antibiotic treatment.
These vaccinations and antibiotics ‘on demand’ are normally prescribed and given by your specialist or GP. This is because most of these pathogens are also common in the Netherlands and the vaccinations and antibiotics are therefore not only needed during travel.
REDUCED SPLEEN FUNCTION AND MALARIA
When travelling to areas where malaria is prevalent, people with impaired function of the spleen are always advised to take malaria pills preventively. This advice is in addition to the regular advice to take proper precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
PERSONALISED ADVICE IN CASE OF REDUCED SPLEEN FUNCTION
Are you planning a trip? If so, make sure you are well prepared. Vaccinatiecentrum.nl helps you with personalised advice. Make an appointment well in advance, preferably at least six weeks before departure.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 085-9020303.