Analysis of a large cohort of business travelers will help clinicians focus on frequent and serious illnesses. We aimed to describe travel-related health problems in business travelers.
GeoSentinel Surveillance Network consists of 64 travel and tropical medicine clinics in 29 countries; descriptive analysis was performed on ill business travelers, defined as persons traveling for work, evaluated after international travel 1 January 1997 through 31 December 2014.
Among 12 203 business travelers seen 1997-2014 (14 045 eligible diagnoses), the majority (97%) were adults aged 20-64 years; most (74%) reported from Western Europe or North America; two-thirds were male. Most (86%) were outpatients. Fewer than half (45%) reported a pre-travel healthcare encounter. Frequent regions of exposure were sub-Saharan Africa (37%), Southeast Asia (15%) and South Central Asia (14%). The most frequent diagnoses were malaria (9%), acute unspecified diarrhea (8%), viral syndrome (6%), acute bacterial diarrhea (5%) and chronic diarrhea (4%). Species was reported for 973 (90%) of 1079 patients with malaria, predominantly Plasmodium falciparum acquired in sub-Saharan Africa. Of 584 (54%) with malaria chemoprophylaxis information, 92% took none or incomplete courses. Thirteen deaths were reported, over half of which were due to malaria; others succumbed to pneumonia, typhoid fever, rabies, melioidosis and pyogenic abscess.
Diarrheal illness was a major cause of morbidity. Malaria contributed substantial morbidity and mortality, particularly among business travelers to sub-Saharan Africa. Underuse or non-use of chemoprophylaxis contributed to malaria cases. Deaths in business travelers could be reduced by improving adherence to malaria chemoprophylaxis and targeted vaccination for vaccine-preventable diseases. Pre-travel advice is indicated for business travelers and is currently under-utilized and needs improvement.