Travel to Developing Regions Linked to Specific Diseases

Likelihood of destination-specific illnesses could guide diagnosis and therapy

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The likelihood of contracting certain diseases in some resource-poor travel destinations could guide physicians' diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, according to a study in the Jan. 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

David O. Freedman, M.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues analyzed data on 17,353 sick returned travelers from 30 specialized travel or tropical medicine clinics on six continents.

The researchers found significant regional differences in morbidity in 16 out of 21 broad disease categories. Systemic febrile illness occurred disproportionately among returnees from sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia, acute diarrhea in travelers returning from south central Asia and dermatologic problems in those returning from the Caribbean, Central America or South America.

Malaria was among the most frequent causes of systemic febrile illness among travelers from every region, but travelers from all regions except sub-Saharan Africa and Central America had confirmed or probable dengue more frequently than malaria, the report indicates.

"When patients present to specialized clinics after travel to the developing world, travel destinations are associated with the probability of the diagnosis of certain diseases," the authors write. "Diagnostic approaches and empiric therapies can be guided by these destination-specific differences."

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