Travelers with sickle cell disease.

Willen SM, Thornburg CD, Lantos PM
J Travel Med. 2014 21 (5): 332-9

PMID: 24947546 · PMCID: PMC4146746 · DOI:10.1111/jtm.12142

BACKGROUND - Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common genetic disease among persons with African ancestry. This article provides a background to SCD and reviews many important aspects of travel preparation in this population.

METHODS - The medical literature was searched for studies on travel-associated preparedness and complications in individuals with SCD. Topics researched included malaria, bacterial infections, vaccinations, dehydration, altitude, air travel, and travel preparedness.

RESULTS - There is very little published literature that specifically addresses the risks faced by travelers with SCD. Rates of medical complications during travel appear to be high. There is a body of literature that describes complications of SCD in indigenous populations, particularly within Africa. The generalizability of these data to a traveler is uncertain. Combining these sources of data and the broader medical literature, we address major travel-related questions that may face a provider preparing an individual with SCD for safe travel.

CONCLUSIONS - Travelers with SCD face considerable medical risks when traveling to developing tropical countries, including malaria, bacterial infections, hypovolemia, and sickle cell-associated vaso-occlusive crises. For individuals with SCD, frank counseling about the risks, vigilant preventative measures, and contingency planning for illness while abroad are necessary aspects of the pre-travel visit.

© 2014 International Society of Travel Medicine.

MeSH Terms (18)

Adolescent Adult Aged Anemia, Sickle Cell Child Child, Preschool Developing Countries Diarrhea Female Humans Infant Malaria Male Middle Aged Patient Participation Travel Travel Medicine Vaccination

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