Clinical and epidemiological characteristics of imported infectious diseases in Spanish travelers.
Spain could be a potential area in Europe for the development and spread of emerging diseases from the tropics due to its geoclimatic characteristics, but there is little information on infectious diseases imported by travelers. The aim of this article was to analyze clinical-epidemiological characteristics of infectious diseases imported by Spanish travelers from the tropics. A retrospective descriptive study of 2,982 travelers seeking medical advice who return ill from the tropics was conducted. Demographic data, details of travel (destination, type, and duration), preventive measures, clinical syndromes, and diagnoses were analyzed. Nearly half (46.5%) the travelers had traveled to sub-Saharan Africa; 46.5% reported a stay exceeding 1 month (and almost a quarter more than 6 months). Following pre-travel advice, 69.1% received at least one vaccine and 35.5% took malarial chemoprophylaxis with variations according to geographical area of travel. In all, 58.8% of this took chemoprophylaxis correctly. Most common syndromes were fever 1,028 (34.5%), diarrhea 872 (29.3%), and cutaneous syndrome 684 (22.9%). Most frequent diagnoses were traveler's diarrhea (17.2%), malaria (17%), and intestinal parasites (10.4%). The three main syndromes in travelers to the Caribbean-Central America, Indian subcontinent-Southeast Asia, and other areas were diarrhea, fever, and cutaneous syndrome (p < 0.05); in sub-Saharan Africa were fever, cutaneous syndrome, and diarrhea (p < 0.05); and in South America were cutaneous syndrome, diarrhea, and fever (p < 0.05). Travelers to sub-Saharan Africa showed a higher frequency of malaria, rickettsiosis, filariasis, and schistosomiasis (p < 0.05); those to South America showed cutaneous larva migrants, other ectoparasitosis, and cutaneous/mucocutaneous leishmaniasis; and those to the Indian subcontinent-Southeast Asia showed intestinal parasitosis, arboviriasis, and enteric fever (p < 0.05). Increased international travel is a key factor for the development and spread of emerging pathogens. Information on these diseases is essential to establish early warning mechanisms and action plans. Spain represents a unique setting for this. © 2010 International Society of Travel Medicine.
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