17:20 PM

Measles resurgence may pose unique threat to patients with inflammatory diseases

Healio Rheumatology reports concerns have been raised that patients with inflammatory diseases, particularly those treated with TNF inhibitors, could be at greater risk for measles infection, however the growth and risk of these cases among this patient population raise questions for which there are few answers and fewer data to guide physicians.

Healio Rheumatology spoke to Karmela Kim Chan, MD, rheumatologist at HSS, who explained it remains to be seen whether that level of concern is warranted for these patients as the data remains sparse. “We don’t actually know specifically if TNF inhibitors increase the risk of measles. We don’t know if being on a TNF agent affects someone’s immune status — if the TNF blocker somehow causes immunity to measles to wane in someone who has previously been vaccinated. Even so, it seems that in patients who do get measles despite having been vaccinated, the measles case is not as severe,” said Dr. Chan. She added, “It is useful to bear in mind that for the 2018-2019 flu season, the CDC estimates that there were about 40 million influenza illnesses. Compare that to only 971 cases of measles in the first five months of 2019. Just by virtue of likelihood of exposure, our patients are far more likely to suffer with the flu rather than measles.”

Read the full article at Healio.com.