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Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin. 2011 Mar;29(3):185-92. doi: 10.1016/j.eimc.2010.11.011. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

[Imported and non-imported diseases in the immigrant population. A decade of experience from an infectious diseases unit].

[Article in Spanish]

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  • 1Unidad de Enfermedades Infecciosas, Hospital General Universitario de Elche, Alicante, España.



Immigration is an inexorable process. Immigrants may suffer infectious diseases commonly seen in our environment, or those more exotic or more prevalent in their own environment.


A study was performed including all immigrants see in an Infectious Diseases Unit of a general hospital from June 2001 to May 2010.


We studied 1,071 patients from Latin America (n=405, 37.8%), Northern Africa (n=281, 26.2%), Eastern Europe (n=186, 17.4%), sub-Saharan Africa (n=178, 16.6%), and Asia (21, 2.0%). Transmissible infectious diseases were the leading cause of consultation (53.8%), and they were more common among people coming from Northern Africa (61.6%) and Eastern Europe (69.4%) (P=.001). The second reason for consultation was for common infectious diseases (29%). Tropical infectious diseases were diagnosed in 16.4% of the patients, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa (36%), and Latin America (25.9%) (P<.001). The most common diagnoses were latent tuberculous infection (20.8%) [most common in those from Eastern Europe (27.4%) (P=.004)], respiratory tract infection (12.5%), sexually transmitted infections (10.6%) [most common in patients from Northern Africa (17.1%) (P=.004)], chronic hepatitis (10.4%) [most common in patients from Eastern Europe (26.3%) (P<.001) and sub-Saharan Africa (16.9%) (P=.004)], and active tuberculosis (8.7%) [most common in sub-Saharan Africa patients (15.7%) (P=.001)].


The spectrum of infectious diseases in the immigrant population in our area is broad, and includes a wide variety of tropical and communicable diseases, but also of common infections. While communicable diseases are the leading cause of consultation, common infections constitute an important part of health care activity.

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