Cimzia and infection

After experiencing side effects to three of the comman drugs given for RA, my consultant decided to put me on Cimzia. I went through all the necessary tests nd started my course with a double dose on a Monday. The results were very good. The next day my hands were not so stiff and I continued to improve through the week.

I was a bit surprised to get a call the next Sunday saying the nurse was coming the following day to give my the next dose. The packet said 2 weeks but I thought they knew what they were doing. I had the dose and the RA continued to improve. However, the following Wednesday I woke early and could not get out of bed. Worse, I lost control of my bladder. An ambulance was called and I was off to Kings College Hospital A & E . There they found a high fever and suspected either a chest or urine infection. I was transferred to the ward and over the next few days had various tests including an MRI.

I turned out I had salmonella poisoning that had found it's way into the spine and caused some fractures. I was treated with a high dosage of IV antibiotics for 12 weeks and was in hospital for a total of 14 weeks. For some of those weeks I was forbidden to rise above 30 degrees which meant some weeks lying flat on my back. The result of this was I could only just about walk with a frame wearing a back brace which was really uncomfortable. After some intensive physiotherapy, I was at last allowed home where I am gradually improving.

My RA seems to be settled thankfully, though walking again is a long slow process. The consultant explained that because of the Cimzia, my immune system was so low causing the salmonella to have it's devastating effect. Whether this was exacerbated by the early dose or not, I don't know.

As for medication, the rheumatologists are not going to prescribe anything until I have finished the latest course of antibiotics in 5 and a half months time.

6 Replies

Hi there,

I have not had Cimzia, but had nasty infection in a hip replacement whilst on Etanacept ( another biologic) This was about two years ago, and am due to cease maintenance anti-biotics this Autumn. I had a very common infection in the hip, but complicated because of hip replacement and the my lowered immune.

Since then, I have not been able to have any injectable biologic drugs, because of fears of infection, again and after a few oral failures, I am now trying Rituximab.

It's good to hear that your RA is under control without any biologics, and well done to you for managing to get walking albeit slowly!. Infection with biologic drugs, is definitely a traumatic thing, and hopefully, we will not have to experience it again.

Wishing you very good luck with your future treatment, and getting mobile again.



Thanks for your helpful and kind words.

Phil x


Poor you Phil that really sounds dreadful. I'm being assessed for anti -tnf in 3 weeks time and several people, including my GP and someone with RA who takes a biologic drug have mentioned nasty side effects that I was previously unaware of. Its good to at least be warned. I hope you continue to improve and RA continues to behave. Tilda x


Hi Phil, so sorry to hear this has happened to you....but glad that you are on the mend, I hope your RA doesn't get any worse.

I'm a little worried now as I'm getting my first lot of Cimzia delivered on Tuesday then the homecare nurse is coming a couple of days after for the first injection. I've been suffering with a recurring cough for the last 5-6's eased off quite a bit now but I'm wondering if I should mention this to the nurse.

It sounds really sad but I was so looking forward to starting this treatment as none of the other DMARD drugs worked & my RA was flaring so badly.

My rheumy nurse said that infections are very rare on Cimzia.....not so sure now!

Take care of yourself Phil.



I would definitely mention it to the nurse. They told me that 38 degrees was the critical point so if you don't have a temperature it may be OK.

Best of luck

Phil xx


Thanks I don't have a fingers crossed should be OK.

P.S. Good Luck Tilda with your assessment!



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