MS linked to higher infection-related health care use

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  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with elevated infection-related health care use.

Why this matters

  • Although infection is more prevalent in the MS population, their effect on health care use, especially by type of infection, is unclear.

Key results

  • Relative to unaffected peers, patients with MS were more likely to be hospitalized for infection (adjusted OR, 2.39), and had more physician visits and filled more infection-related prescriptions (adjusted rate ratios, 1.41 and 1.57).
  • Use was elevated more for men than for women, and was seen across all age-groups.
  • Physician visits and hospitalizations were higher in particular for pneumonia, urinary system infections, and skin infections (adjusted rate ratios, 1.6-3.3), and hospitalizations were higher for intestinal infections (2.6) and sepsis (2.2).

Study design

  • A population-based cohort study of 7179 people with MS in British Columbia, Canada, followed from their first claim for demyelinating disease (1996-2013) until death, emigration, or study end (2013).
  • The main outcomes were infection-related hospital use, physician visits, and prescriptions relative to those of 35,837 matched unaffected individuals.
  • Funding: the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


  • Patients with MS may be monitored more closely for infection.
  • The study did not capture infections that were self-limiting.