SLE affects the immune system, thus reducing the body’s ability to prevent and fight infection. In addition, many of the drugs used to treat SLE also suppress the function of the immune system, thereby further depressing the ability to fight infection. The risk of infection parallels medication dosages and duration of treatment.
People with SLE who show signs and symptoms of infection need prompt therapy to prevent it from becoming life threatening. The most common infections involve the respiratory tract, urinary tract, and skin and do not require hospitalization if they are treated promptly. Other opportunistic infections, particularly Salmonella, Herpes Zoster, and Candida infections, are more common in people with SLE because of altered immune status.