Preventing Infections in Sickle Cell Disease: The Unfinished Business

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Abstract

While encapsulated bacterial agents, particularly Streptococcus pneumoniae, are recognized as important microbes that are associated with serious illness in hosts with sickle cell disease (SCD), multiple pathogens are implicated in infectious manifestations of SCD. Variations in clinical practice have been an obstacle to the universal implementation of infection preventive management through active, targeted vaccination of these individuals and routine usage of antibiotic prophylaxis. Paradoxically, in low-income settings, there is evidence that SCD also increases the risk for several other infections that warrant additional infection preventive measures. The infection preventive care among patients with SCD in developed countries does not easily translate to the adoption of these recommendations globally, which must take into account the local epidemiology of infections, available vaccines and population-specific vaccine efficacy, environment, health care behaviors, and cultural beliefs, as these are all factors that play a complex role in the manifestation of SCD and the prevention of infectious disease morbidity.

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