No, you cannot catch primary immunodeficiency.
This disorder is usually inherited, meaning that a person is born with primary immune deficiency disease. Like anything that is inherited, PI diseases are the result of altered or mutated genes that can be passed on from parent to child or can arise as genes are being copied. PI is carried through the genes, you cannot "catch it" like a cold.1 PI affects the balance between components of the immune system and prevents the body from responding effectively against invading pathogens. It is also possible for a person to develop or acquire (e.g., AIDS; see below) an immunodeficiency disorder during one’s lifetime, which can be the result of immune system damage.1 A person with PI who has an infection such as pneumonia may pass the infection to an otherwise healthy person, but the immunodeficiency disorder cannot be passed on to another person.
AIDS is short for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Acquired means that the disease cannot be inherited. HIV, the virus that is responsible for causing AIDS, can be passed from an infected person to an uninfected person through certain body fluids. Only when a person becomes infected with this virus is the immune system damaged.1
Primary Immunodeficiency is different from AIDS because it is a genetic disease that is present from birth although symptoms may develop later in life. It is not transferred from one person to another.
For several life threatening primary immune deficiencies, bone marrow transplants or stem cell transplantation offer the chance of a dramatic, complete and permanent cure. Unfortunately, bone marrow transplants do not work for everyone. To be successful, the transplant needs to come from a donor whose body tissues are a close biological "match."1
Immunoglobulin, or IgG infusions, temporarily replace missing antibodies and help protect against infections. If given Into a vein (intravenous infusion), this infusion of antibodies must be given every three to four weeks to maintain adequate levels of antibodies.2 If given under the skin (subcutaneous infusion), this infusion of antibodies must be given every week. There are several different immunoglobulin products licensed for intravenous use. There are some differences in the formulations that may make one particular preparation more suitable for a given person. As always, your doctor is the best source of information as to which formulation of immunoglobulin is best for you.
Gene therapy attempts to cure disease by inserting a healthy version of a missing or malfunctioning gene into a cell to restore normal function. Currently, gene therapy remains strictly experimental, and not yet used routinely for therapy.1
There are two routes of administration available for immunoglobulin (IgG) replacement therapy.
Intravenous (IV) IgG therapy is administered intravenously, or directly into the bloodstream through a vein, at a single infusion site. Infusions take place every 3-4 weeks. Infusion time varies from patient to patient but has been approximated to be 2-4 hours and infusion are administered by a healthcare professional in a hospital, physician’s office, or at home.2
Subcutaneous (SubQ) IgG therapy is delivered under your skin through 1 or more small needles inserted at different sites of your body. Infusions are self-administered at home once a week. Infusion time varies from patient to patient but has been approximated to be 1-3 hours.2,4
Your ability, lifestyle and health needs will help you to determine what infusion experience would be best for you. Talk to your doctor to decide which option is right for you.
|Gene:||A unit of hereditary information that occupies a fixed position (locus) on a chromosome. Genes are formed from DNA and are responsible for the inherited characteristics that distinguish one individual from another.|
|Immune system:||A complex system comprised of many organs and cells that defends the body against viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances.|
|Immunoglobulins (Immune globulins):||Proteins produced by the immune system, many of which act as antibodies.|
- National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development. National Institutes of Health. When the Body’s Defenses are Missing: Primary Immunodeficiency. NIH Pub No. 99-4149: p.3-17.
- Blaese RM, Winkelstein J. Patient & Family Handbook for Primary Immunodeficieincy Diseases. Towson, MD: Immune Deficiency Foundation; 2007.
- GAMMAGARD LIQUID [Immune Globulin Infusion (Human)] 10% [package insert]. Westlake Village, CA. Baxter International Inc.; July 2011.
- Blaese RM, ed. IDF Guide for Nurses on Immune Globulin Therapy for Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases. 2nd ed. Towson, MD: Immune Deficiency Foundation; 2007.