Inadequate vaccination, malaria prevention among teens traveling internationally
NEW ORLEANS — A minority of teenagers traveling internationally sought out appropriate pre-travel services, including prescription of malaria prophylaxis and vaccination for rabies and typhoid fever, according to research presented at ASM Microbe.
“There needs to be more education for travel medicine consultants, including family doctors and pediatricians, regarding international travel for adolescents,” Helena Maltezou, MD, PhD, from the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Athens, Greece, told Infectious Diseases in Children. “Communication strategies for pediatricians should be developed to access adolescent travelers.”
To determine the likelihood of adolescents receiving all necessary pre-travel medical preparations, the researchers conducted a prospective study in which profiles, vaccination and malaria prophylactic administration were evaluated. Teenagers (n=239) between the ages of 12 and 18 years who traveled internationally between 2008 and 2016 were included in the study.
The researchers observed that, on average, adolescents sought out pre-travel services only 24.1 days before international travel, during which they would spend at least three months at the destination (46.1%). The majority of teenagers were traveling to sub-Saharan Africa (n=79; 33.1%), Latin America (n=56; 23.5%) and North America (n=26; 10.9%).
Among the vaccines suggested, hepatitis A (18%) and tetanus-diphtheria (14.2%) vaccinations were the most commonly administered routine vaccinations, while yellow fever (74.1%) and typhoid (20.5%) were most commonly administered for travel.
However, researchers found that vaccines for typhoid fever and rabies were inadequately administered to adolescents traveling to countries in which these diseases are endemic. Additionally, not all teenagers traveling to sub-Saharan Africa were prescribed the required malaria prophylaxis.
In an interview, Maltezou suggests improving communication with teenage travelers through various methods, including leaflets, television advertisements, contact with national travel agent associations and through the internet. — by Katherine Bortz
Maltezou H, et al. Abstract 275. Presented at: ASM Microbe 2017; June 1-5, 2017; New Orleans, La.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.