Emerging viral infections in rheumatic diseases

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Oct;41(2):236-46. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2011.01.008. Epub 2011 Mar 27.


Objectives: To review the current literature regarding emerging viral pathogens in the context of rheumatic diseases with the intent of increasing awareness among rheumatologists and treating physicians, aiming at early recognition and treatment of these patients.

Methods: We reviewed case reports, case series, review articles, and original reports from PubMed (www.pubmed.gov) regarding various aspects influencing spread of infectious diseases including epidemiology and viral and human factors that are potentially responsible for the emergence of new viral pathogens. By consensus, we generated a list of emerging viral pathogens pertinent regarding presentation with rheumatologic manifestations and then short-listed several with particular clinical relevance including hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus, and Chikungunya viruses for discussion in greater detail.

Results: There has been a change in the epidemiology and clinical rheumatic manifestations of previously known viral pathogens as well as the emergence of new viral pathogens as a consequence of factors such as changes in environmental temperature and its consequences, changes in vector and parasite biology, and human influences such as treatment and immunization.

Conclusions: Rheumatologists need to be cognizant of the changing landscape of emerging viral pathogens as they may present with myriad clinical features. Recognition of these pathogens is important to guide correct treatment and prognosis. Given the current scenario of global epidemiologic factors that influence viral emergence, we should expect a growing number of future emerging pathogens. Ongoing research directed at understanding pathogenesis and transmission as well as developing better preventive strategies may help counter the threat posed by emerging pathogens.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Diseases / complications*
  • Communicable Diseases / transmission
  • Humans
  • Rheumatic Diseases / virology*
  • Virus Diseases / complications*
  • Virus Diseases / transmission