The Traveler with Sickle Cell Disease | oneSCDvoice
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scientific articles

The Traveler with Sickle Cell Disease

key information

source: Journal of Travel Medicine

year: 2014

authors: Shaina M. Willen, Courtney D. Thornburg, Paul M. Lantos

summary/abstract:

Background:

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

Methods:

The medical literature was searched for studies about 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 are 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; these include malaria, bacterial infections, hypovolemia, and sickle cell-associated vaso-occlusive crises. Frank counseling about risks, vigilant preventative measures, and contingency planning for illness while abroad are necessary parts of the pre-travel visit for individuals with SCD.

 

organization: Duke University Medical Center, USA; University of San Diego Medical Center, USA

DOI: 10.1111/jtm.12142

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