June 18, 2013
1 min read

Examining worldwide disease trends can help guide travelers

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Examining data on illnesses from patients who have recently traveled may provide a snapshot of disease trends around the world and may guide clinicians and their patients about preventive measures, according to study findings published online.

Karin Leder, MD, PhD, of the Victorian Infectious Disease Service at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and colleagues analyzed data from more than 42,000 returned travelers who visited 18 travel GeoSentinel health clinics worldwide between 2000 and 2010.

Karin Leder MD 

Karin Leder

The researchers reported some common destinations from which ill travelers returned, including sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, south-central Asia and South America. Many clinics reported increases in ill travelers returning with enteric fever (typhoid or paratyphoid) and dengue.

Meanwhile, officials with the clinics reported a significant decline in malaria, which the researchers said may be related to better-tolerated malaria drugs.

More than half of international travelers to developing countries become ill during their trip, and approximately 8% seek medical care for a travel-associated illness either during or after travel, according to previous research cited in the study.

This multisite longitudinal analysis highlighted the utility of sentinel surveillance of travelers for contributing information on disease activity trends and an evidence base for travel medicine recommendations, according to the researchers.

“We have examined data collected over more than a decade to report changes in traveler and itinerary characteristics and in the disease profiles seen among those who return home unwell and seek care at specialised centers,” Leder told Infectious Disease News. “Our findings assist prioritization of pre-travel interventions and post-travel management of ill travelers, and also highlight how traveler surveillance data can provide an additional layer in global efforts to inform the international community about disease activity trends.”

For more information:

Karin Leder, MDPhD, can be reached at Karin.leder@monash.edu.

Disclosure: Leder reports no relevant financial disclosures.