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International Rheumatology Symposium Focuses on Reactive Arthritis

July 18, 2022
by Jane E. Dee

2022 marked the second year that Yale Rheumatology has presented its International State-of-the-Art Symposium, demonstrating its leadership and commitment to improving the health of people with rheumatic diseases across the world.

Yale rheumatology held its first international symposium in 2021 as an interdisciplinary forum for discussing rheumatologic issues. That meeting, on the topic of Pre-autoimmunity and the Prevention of Rheumatic Diseases, drew a large global audience. This year’s symposium again featured international rheumatology experts who shared their knowledge of reactive arthritis, a disease that has become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reactive arthritis is “undergoing a renaissance of interest, and we hope with greater understanding, due to COVID-19,” said Richard Bucala, MD, PhD, Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine (rheumatology) and chief of the Section of Rheumatology, Allergy, & Immunology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine (YSM).

“To those of us trained in rheumatology, we tend to think of reactive arthritis as Reiter’s syndrome, as it was formerly called, or the arthritis that develops as a complication in 10-15% of individuals after a bout of infectious arthritis,” Bucala explained during his welcoming remarks. He added that reactive arthritis is not only a joint disease, but that it has become clear over the years that it encompasses inflammatory syndromes affecting many organ systems. Certain features of these syndromes are now being described in long COVID and rarely, in association with COVID-19 vaccination.

Because rheumatologists are seeing more patients with reactive arthritis due to COVID-19, “we thought it would be timely to review fundamentals about reactive arthritis, and to provide a state of the art of the knowledge base of what is known of infection-related symptoms,” said Bucala, who proposed consideration of an operational definition of reactive arthritis at the start of the meeting.

The day-long meeting featured 15 speakers and was moderated by Vaidehi Chowdhary, MBBS, MD, associate professor and clinical chief, Rheumatology, Allergy, & Immunology, Robert Schoen, MD, MBA, professor (rheumatology), who served as course director, and Bucala. Yale speakers included Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and Professor of Dermatology, and of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and of Epidemiology (microbial diseases); Erica S. Spatz, MD, MHS, associate professor of cardiology and of epidemiology (chronic diseases); and Kevan Herold, MD, C.N.H. Long Professor of immunobiology and of medicine (endocrinology).

Next year’s International Yale State-of-the-Art Rheumatology Symposium is being planned for May 2023 as a hybrid on-site/virtual meeting. It will focus on the state of the art of risk assessment for different interventions in the autoimmune rheumatic diseases.

To watch a video of the 2022 symposium and to see a full list of speakers, go here.

The Section of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology is dedicated to providing care for patients with rheumatic, allergic and immunologic disorders; educating future generations of thought leaders in the field; and conducting research into fundamental questions of autoimmunity and immunology. To learn more about their work, visit Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology.

Submitted by Jane E. Dee on July 18, 2022