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Volume 46 Number 6, 2009
   Pages 673 — 684

Abstract – Infectious complications in OIF/OEF veterans with traumatic brain injury

Birgitt Dau, MD;1-2 Gina Oda, MS;3 Mark Holodniy, MD1-3*

1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA; 2Division of Infectious Diseases, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; 3Office of Public Health Surveillance and Research, VA, Washington, DC

Abstract — Of veterans from the U.S. Global War on Terrorism who have sought care in the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 12% have an infectious disease diagnosis. Infections in those veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) include infections associated with blast injuries and burns, such as skin and soft tissue infections; infections as a result of retained bullet or shrapnel fragments; pulmonary infections resulting from lung injury, intubation, or resultant trache-ostomy; hospital-acquired infections, such as those associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other antimicrobial resistant organisms such as Acinetobacter baumannii; and infections from implanted prosthetic devices, such as metal hardware or skull flaps. Longer-term cognitive impairment may result in behaviors that place veterans with TBI at risk for human immunodeficiency virus or hepatitis C virus infections. Finally, chronic infections acquired abroad, such as cutaneous leishmaniasis or Q-fever, may be diagnosed after veterans return to the United States. These infections present challenges in terms of added morbidity and costs associated with complex antimicrobial management; isolation requirements; and surgical procedures, such as those to remove infected retained fragments or prosthetic devices. In this review, providers will become more familiar with the scope and complexity of infectious disease management in veterans with TBI.

Key words: Acinetobacter, Afghanistan, brain injury, infection, infectious disease management, Iraq, leishmaniasis, MRSA, sexually transmitted infection, veteran.

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