Celiac.com 04/11/2020 - We know that people with celiac disease have higher risk of bacterial pneumonia, especially those who have not received a vaccine for pneumococcal pneumonia, which is recommended for everyone with celiac disease, even if you are young.
However, we don't have any good information on whether people with celiac disease might be at higher risk for viral pneumonia, which is of special interest, given the outbreak of coronavirus. Do people with celiac disease have higher risk of getting cover? Are they at greater risk for viral pneumonia?
Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, MS, Director of Clinical Research, The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and colleagues have set up an online, confidential, de-identified secure registry for doctors worldwide to report cases of those with celiac disease who get Covid-19. The registry entry should be done by health care practitioners only, not patients.
Dr. Lebwohl specifically mentions the increased risk for pneumococcal pneumonia in people with celiac disease as one reason to look for any elevated viral pneumonia risk in celiacs, among other risks. A recent email from Dr. Lebwohl to fellow celiac researchers reads as follows:
We have been asked by our patients about whether celiac disease is an 'underlying condition' that may predispose to more severe outcomes. There have been some helpful responses by celiac organizations with an overall reassuring tone.
Still, there are theoretical concerns related to the fact that patients with celiac disease have a slightly higher risk of developing zoster and complications from influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia, risks that persist in the long term after adoption of the gluten-free diet. Thankfully, these increases are small in magnitude, far smaller than risk factors such as immunosuppressant use or chronic lung disease.
In the face of uncertainty, we should be studying this. Our group is working to set up an international, web-based registry of celiac disease patients with COVID-19. We will be inviting health care professionals to submit clinical details in a concise and easy-to-input way. The registry will contain only de-identified data.
Stay tuned for more developments on this and related stories. Curious about the celiac disease, COVID-19, and viral pneumonia?
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