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Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Apr;56(7):913-24. doi: 10.1093/cid/cis1015. Epub 2012 Dec 7.

Spectrum of illness in international migrants seen at GeoSentinel clinics in 1997-2009, part 1: US-bound migrants evaluated by comprehensive protocol-based health assessment.

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  • 1Boston University, MA, USA.



Many nations are struggling to develop structured systems and guidelines to optimize the health of new arrivals, but there is currently no international consensus about the best approach.


Data on 7792 migrants who crossed international borders for the purpose of resettlement and underwent a protocol-based health assessment were collected from the GeoSentinel Surveillance network. Demographic and health characteristics of a subgroup of these migrants seen at 2 US-based GeoSentinel clinics for protocol-based health assessments are described.


There was significant variation over time in screened migrant populations and in their demographic characteristics. Significant diagnoses identified in all migrant groups included latent tuberculosis, found in 43% of migrants, eosinophilia in 15%, and hepatitis B infection in 6%. Variation by region occurred for select diagnoses such as parasitic infections. Notably absent were infectious tuberculosis, soil-transmitted helminths, and malaria. Although some conditions would be unfamiliar to clinicians in receiving countries, universal health problems such as dental caries, anemia, ophthalmologic conditions, and hypertension were found in 32%, 11%, 10%, and 5%, respectively, of screened migrants.


Data from postarrival health assessments can inform clinicians about screening tests to perform in new immigrants and help communities prepare for health problems expected in specific migrant populations. These data support recommendations developed in some countries to screen all newly arriving migrants for some specific diseases (such as tuberculosis) and can be used to help in the process of developing additional screening recommendations that might be applied broadly or focused on specific at-risk populations.

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