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Infectious Diseases in the Elderly

EDWARD L. SCHNEIDER, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Edward L. Schneider, M.D.; Associate Director for Biomedical Research and Clinical Medicine, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health; 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 31, Room 5C-11; Bethesda, MD 20205.


▸This paper summarizes the proceedings of a workshop held 17-18 September 1981, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.*This paper has been extensively edited, reviewed, and approved by the following coauthors who participated in the workshop: William Adler, M. D.; Arthur J. Ammann, M.D.; Robert Austrian, M.D.; Edwin H. Beachey, M.D.; David Bentley, M.D.; Robert B. Couch, M.D.; Michael M. Frank, M.D.; Lawrence R. Freedman, M.D.; John I. Gallin, M.D.; Evan Hadley, M.D.; James C. Hill, Ph.D.; John LaMontagne, Ph.D.; Donald B. Louria, M.D.; John P. Phair, M.D.; Fredrick L. Rubin, M.D.; Fredrick T. Sherman, M.D.; Gregory Siskind, M.D.; and Jonathan Uhr, M.D.

Bethesda, Maryland


Ann Intern Med. 1983;98(3):395-400. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-98-3-395
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As the percent of our population over age 65 increases, infectious disease in this group is becoming a serious public health concern. Much of our knowledge of infections in the elderly is based on clinical experience and lacks a firm scientific foundation. The increased risk of infections observed with aging may be due to physiologic changes that accompany "normal" aging or the age-associated chronic diseases and the medical, surgical, and diagnostic interventions that accompany them. Epidemiologic studies on populations of well and hospitalized older persons in defined age ranges are needed to examine the relation between specific infectious diseases and risk factors. Although the increased susceptibility of older persons to infectious diseases frequently has been attributed to the decline in immune function that occurs with aging, there are very few data confirming this hypothesis. Additional research is clearly needed on other contributory factors such as nutrition, ciliary transport, bacterial adherence, neutrophil and macrophage function, and complement.

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