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Infections and multiple sclerosis: Recommendations from the French Multiple Sclerosis Society

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Last updated:1st Oct 2021
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Infections and multiple sclerosis: Recommendations from the French Multiple Sclerosis Society

Introduction: Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections are suspected of triggering multiple sclerosis (MS) and promoting relapses of the disease and are likely to be promoted by immune-active treatments. This raises questions about the infectious workup and preventive treatment of these infections prior to their initiation.

Objectives: To establish recommendations on infections and MS. Provide information to patients and healthcare professionals on the minimal infectious workup to be performed in an MS patient at diagnosis and prior to initiation of immuno-active therapy in MS.

Methods: The recommendation attempts to answer four main questions about infections and MS. The French Group for Recommendations in Multiple Sclerosis (France4MS) did a systematic review of articles from PubMed and universities databases (from January 1975 to June 2020), using the RAND/UCLA formalized consensus method. The RAND/UCLA method has been developed to synthesize the scientific literature and expert opinions on health care topics and was used for reaching a formal agreement. Twenty-three experts contributed to the detailed review and a group of 63 multidisciplinary health professionals validated the final version of 36 recommendations.

Results: It is recommended that MS patients undergo a minimal infectious workup, check their vaccination status at diagnosis, and repeat it during follow-up and before starting immunotherapy. Screening and preventive treatment of viral (group Herpes virus, HPV, JCV, HCV, HBV), bacterial (mycobacteria) and fungal (Cryptococcus) infections is recommended prior to the initiation of certain immuno-active MS therapies.

Discussion and conclusions: At diagnosis of MS and prior to the choice of therapeutic strategy, it is recommended to update the vaccination schedule of MS patients in reference to the HCSP vaccination schedule and the SFSEP recommendations. Before starting immunosuppressive treatment, it is recommended to inform patients of the risks of infections and to look for a constitutive or acquired immune deficiency. Health professionals and patients should be informed of the updated recommendations on infections and MS.

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