Illness in Children After International Travel: Analysis From the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network
Objective: By using a large, multicenter database, we investigated the characteristics and morbidities of 1591 children returning from 218 global destinations and presenting for care in 19 countries.
Methods: Data reported to the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network between January 1997 and November 2007 were analyzed, to assess demographic features, travel characteristics, and clinical diagnoses of ill pediatric travelers. Data were compared between children and adults and among 3 pediatric age groups (0–5 years, 6–11 years, and 12–17 years).
Results: Children were predominantly tourist travelers returning from Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, or Latin America. Compared with adults, children disproportionately presented within 7 days after return, required hospitalization, lacked pretravel health advice, and had traveled for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives. Diarrhea (28%), dermatologic conditions (25%), systemic febrile illnesses (23%), and respiratory disorders (11%) accounted for the majority of diagnoses reported for children. No fatalities were reported. Diarrhea occurred disproportionately among children after exposure to the Middle East/North Africa, dermatologic conditions after exposure to Latin America, systemic febrile illnesses after exposure to sub-Saharan Africa or Asia, and respiratory disorders after exposure to Europe or North America. The proportionate morbidity rates of travel-associated diseases differed among the pediatric age groups and between children and adults.
Conclusions: The health care utilization patterns before and after travel and the profiles of travel-associated health problems differed between children and adults. Health professionals providing pretravel advice need to consider destination- and age-specific susceptibility to travel-related morbidities and develop prevention strategies accordingly.
- Accepted December 4, 2009.
- Copyright © 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics