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J Med Virol. 2008 Apr;80(4):711-5. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21086.

Incidence of respiratory viruses among travelers with a febrile syndrome returning from tropical and subtropical areas.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Centre de Diagnòstic Biomèdic, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Spain.


Fifty million people are estimated to travel from industrial countries to the tropics annually. In spite of exhaustive studies and widely different diagnosis among returned patients, some cases of febrile illnesses remain without an etiological diagnosis, suggesting that these cases could be due to viral respiratory tract infections. From August 2005 to October 2006, 118 febrile patients without a specific diagnosis in their first visit at the Center for International Health of the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona were included. In all of them, in order to study respiratory viruses, a nasopharyngeal swab was collected. Clinical and radiological features and epidemiological data, as well as other samples for microbiologic studies, were also collected during consultation. Based on the physician's judgment at the time of consultation, patients were classified into four groups: respiratory symptoms (62%), febrile syndrome with nonspecific symptoms (24%), digestive symptoms (10%), and patients presenting both respiratory and digestive symptoms (4%). A pathogen microorganism was detected in 61 patients (52%). Respiratory viruses were detected in 44 out of 118 (37%) travelers included in the study, representing 56% of the patients with respiratory symptoms. The most frequently viruses detected were influenza virus (38%), rhinovirus (23%), adenovirus (9%), and respiratory syncytial virus (9%). Respiratory viruses have been shown to play an important role in imported fever. In light of the fact that international tourism is an increasing phenomenon, new strategies to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses should be considered, specially for influenza when a vaccine is available.

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