Illnesses in travelers returning from the tropics: a prospective study of 622 patients.J Travel Med. 2005 Nov-Dec; 12(6):312-8.JT
Although between 8 and 19% of travelers consult a doctor after returning from the tropics, the full spectrum of health complaints is unknown.
We analyzed the relative frequency of travel-associated health complaints in all travelers (immigrants returning from visiting their home countries, expatriates, business travelers, and tourists) consulting our department between November 2002 and May 2003.
A total of 622 patients were studied (256 women, 366 men; median age 38 yr; 45.3% tourists, 33.8% immigrants, 14.1% expatriates, 6.7% business travelers). The median duration of travel was 36.9 days. The main destinations were Africa (57.6%) and Asia (26.4%). A total of 637 diseases were diagnosed, distributed as follows: skin diseases (23.4%), gastrointestinal infections (19.1%), respiratory tract infections (11.5%), malaria (8.8%), schistosomiasis (7.2%), viral hepatitis (4.1%), urinary tract infections (3.5%), sexually transmitted infections (3.5%), tuberculosis (2.7%), dengue fever (2.5%), and others (13.8%). Malaria and intestinal tract infections accounted for 21% and 23% of diagnoses in the 257 febrile travelers, respectively. Overall, 230 diagnoses (36.1%) corresponded to imported tropical diseases, the main imported diseases being malaria, schistosomiasis, amebiasis, gastrointestinal disorders caused by intestinal nematodes, and dengue fever.
Tropical diseases are not the leading cause of consultation in travelers returning from the tropics. Immigrants are the travelers most at risk of common tropical diseases, with the noteworthy exceptions of dengue fever and invasive schistosomiasis.