Travellers returning ill from the tropics – a descriptive retrospective study

Zimmermann, Petra Sabine; Mühlethaler, Konrad; Furrer, Hansjakob; Stähelin, Cornelia Johanna (2016). Travellers returning ill from the tropics – a descriptive retrospective study. Tropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines, 2(1) BioMed Central 10.1186/s40794-016-0021-1

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nternational travel continues to increase in frequency. Health care providers need a wide understanding of the spectrum of travel related diseases and their management. This retrospective study analyses the demographic and clinical data of 360 travellers returning from the tropics presenting to an outpatient clinic at a tertiary hospital between 2003 - 2007. The aim of this study was to analyse the frequency of presenting symptoms and diseases in ill returning travellers and to correlate them to the areas visited and the duration and purpose of travel. The main symptoms during travel were diarrhoea (n = 200, 56 %) and fever (n = 124, 34 %). Travellers not visiting friends and relatives but with close contact to the local population were at more than two-fold increased risk of diarrhoea (Odds Ratio [OR] 2.5; 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.1-6.0, p = 0.03) and fever (OR 2.4; 95 % CI 1.1-5.3; p = 0.02) compared to tourist travellers. Travellers visiting friends and relatives (VFR) were not at increased risk for diarrhoea (OR 0.6; 95 % CI 0.3-1.3; p = 0.17), or fever (OR 1.5; 95 % CI 0.7-3.4; p = 0.28). Thirty-two percent of all travellers (n = 115) were diagnosed with a specific pathogen. Malaria (6 %), giardiasis (6 %) and amebiasis (4 %) were the most frequently detected pathogens. The odds of malaria as a cause of the presenting illness was lower among travellers reporting pre-travel advice. Specific antimicrobial treatment was required in around one third of the patients.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Infectiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Endocrinology (DFKE) > Clinic of Paediatric Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Zimmermann, Petra Sabine, Mühlethaler, Konrad, Furrer, Hansjakob, Stähelin, Cornelia Johanna


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




BioMed Central




Anette van Dorland

Date Deposited:

20 Jul 2016 16:09

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:56

Publisher DOI:





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