Patients with asthma are at 2 timesgreater risk for pneumococcal disease,compared with individuals without thecondition, warned researchers. A vaccineis available for pneumococcal disease.Current guidelines, however, donot include asthma on the list of conditionsfor which people need the vaccine,because there has been no proof of anincreased risk in patients with asthma.
To show that patients with asthma areat risk for infection, researchers identified635 individuals aged 2 to 29 withinvasive pneumococcal disease. Theresearchers also identified participantsas having either high-or low-risk asthma.The study excluded children <2because it is hard to diagnose asthma inchildren so young. Adults >49 were notincluded because they might have hadother lung disease, making it difficult topinpoint asthma without extensive testing.
Reporting in the New England Journalof Medicine (May 19, 2005), theresearchers found that the overall riskfor pneumococcal infection was 2.4times higher for patients with chronicasthma. The occurrence of invasivepneumococcal disease was 4.2 episodesper 10,000 participants withhigh-risk asthma and 2.3 per 10,000 forthose with low-risk asthma and no otherchronic diseases. For individuals withoutasthma, the rate was 1.2 per10,000.