About immunosuppressive medicines
Immunosuppressive medicines can make someone more susceptible to infections. Also, these medicines can reduce the efficacy of vaccinations and, therefore, affect travelling to the (sub)tropics. Some (travel) vaccinations -like yellow fever- are not allowed to be administered.
There are many different immunosuppressive medicines, for instance, prednisone, azathioprine, methotrexate, cyclosporine and so-called biologics (e.g. TNF-alfa inhibitors like infliximab, eternacept, adalimumab). It is recommended to administer vaccinations before starting taking these medicines, but please always consult your physician or nurse about this.
For advice about vaccinations concerning travelling, you can always go to the RTVD.
Risks when traveling with a chronic illness
Travelling with a chronic illness is often possible. However, it is essential to travel well prepared. Therefore, keep the following in mind:
- Using immunosuppressive medicines makes you more susceptible to infections. The course of the infection can also be more serious. You may be at increased risk for special diseases like tuberculosis and typhoid. The extent of the risk depends on many factors like what kind of chronic illness, what medicines you are taking, your travel destination and your way of travelling.
- The level of medical care in many (sub)tropical countries is lower than in the Netherlands.
- Vaccines may sometimes be less efficient. Living, weakened vaccines (like yellow fever or tuberculosis vaccine) can not be administered. Good preparation for the trip is in any case of great importance.
- Travellers abroad can become carriers of bacteria that are less sensitive to regular antibiotics. The chance depends on the destination. An infection usually does not cause any problems. Still, it may be more challenging to treat when someone gets an infection (e.g. urinary tract infection). Sometimes even hospitalization is necessary.