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J Travel Med. 2002 Sep-Oct;9(5):227-32.

Incidence and precipitating factors of morbidity among Israeli travelers abroad.

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Traveler's clinic, Soroka Medical Center and Department of Epidemiology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel.



During recent years international travel, including visits to the developing world, has become increasingly popular. Many of these travelers suffer from some sort of health problem during their trip or after their return. Travelers clinics that give pretravel immunization and counseling have emerged. This study analyzes the incidence and risk factors for health problems among Israelis traveling abroad.


The study surveyed by telephone 200 people who visited the traveler's clinic at Soroka Medical Center in Beer-Sheva during the years 1998 to 1999. The travelers were questioned after returning from their journey about the type and duration of the trip, compliance with medical advice given in the travel clinic, and health problems during the trip.


The mean age was 26.4 +/- 9.4 years, 7% went on an organized tour, 23% traveled alone, and 77% traveled with a friend. The mean duration of the trip was 14.7 +/- 13.4 weeks. Of the travelers, 70% reported some health impairment. Problems reported most frequently were gastrointestinal tract diseases (43%), respiratory tract diseases (25%), and injuries (10%). Only 4% were admitted to a hospital during their trip. After their return, 19.5% consulted a physician. Comparing the group of travelers who were sick with the rest, a correlation between noncompliance with the keeping of food hygiene and illness was found (p =.008). Additional risk factors for illness were long duration (p <.001), solitary trip (p =.04), and young age (p <.001). Of the people who were advised to take antimalaria chemoprophylaxis, 55% reported regular use of these drugs. Compliance with treatment correlated with older age (p <.001), short duration of stay (p =.01), previous experience, and travel to Africa (p <.001).


Most of the travelers to developing countries are young, travel for long periods, and live in basic conditions during their stay abroad. For these reasons travelers are at increased risk for morbidity. High risk travelers should be identified and counseled in order to increase their compliance with the medical advice and immunizations. A screening program for returning travelers should be considered.

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