Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is an inherited disorder associated with damage to the peripheral nerves, which send messages between the brain and the rest of the body. CMT results in muscle weakness, loss of sensation, and other symptoms.

Patients with CMT are equally at risk of infectious diseases, and if contracted these conditions can be damaging or fatal. The best defense in many cases is vaccination.

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine can boost the immune system’s ability to target and remove an infection before it can multiply and cause damage to the body. It normally contains a small amount of part of a virus or bacteria or something that closely resembles it. This enables the immune system to create a “memory” of the infection so that it can recognize it and prepare defenses against it more quickly if it encounters it.

CMT and vaccinations

Currently, no vaccinations are contraindicated for CMT patients, as there has been no medical evidence to suggest that they worsen symptoms of the disease. Generally, it is recommended that patients receive routine vaccinations, as the infections they prevent are far more harmful than the potential side effects of a vaccine. However, it is best to discuss all options with a healthcare professional before making a decision.

Ensuring that vaccinations for pneumonia and the flu are up to date can also help reduce the risk of breathing problems.

CMT and the flu

Influenza, or the flu, can be particularly dangerous for people with neurological disorders such as CMT, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is recommended that patients receive the flu vaccination before the start of flu season; this can significantly reduce the risk of severe complications or death.

Very rarely, flu vaccination can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which has symptoms similar to CMT and may make the condition worse. However, there is evidence to suggest that contracting the flu itself is more likely to cause GBS than the vaccination. GBS is the result of the immune system overreacting and targeting the nerves, and is normally temporary. There is no evidence to suggest that CMT patients are more at risk of GBS than the general population.

Vaccinations and travel

In some countries, there is a higher risk of certain infectious diseases and it is generally recommended that travelers get the appropriate vaccinations before a trip. Travel to some countries is contingent on proof of certain vaccinations. The CDC has up-to-date information on country-specific recommendations, however, this should be discussed with a doctor before proceeding.

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Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.