Infections are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Therapeutic, disease-related and genetic factors all contribute to a lupus patient's increased susceptibility to infections. Although bacterial pathogens are the most common cause of infections, a wide variety of pathogens have been reported. In high-risk populations, identification and treatment of chronic infections such as tuberculosis, hepatitis B or human immunodeficiency virus, are important prior to the institution of immunosuppression to prevent reactivation or exacerbation of the infection. Judicious use of corticosteroids and cytotoxic drugs is critical in limiting infectious complications. Vaccines against influenza and pneumococcus appear to be safe and immunogenic in SLE patients and their routine administration should be encouraged.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.