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Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Feb;13(2):217-22.

Imported infectious disease and purpose of travel, Switzerland.

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University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.


We evaluated the epidemiologic factors of patients seeking treatment for travel-associated illness from January 2004 through May 2005 at the University Hospital of Zurich. When comparing persons whose purpose of travel was visiting friends and relatives (VFR travelers; n = 121) with tourists and other travelers (n = 217), VFR travelers showed a distinct infectious disease and risk spectrum. VFR travelers were more likely to receive a diagnosis of malaria (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 2.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-7.3) or viral hepatitis (OR = 3.1, 95% CI 1.1-9) compared with other travelers but were less likely to seek pretravel advice (20% vs. 67%, p = 0.0001). However, proportionate rates of acute diarrhea were lower in VFR (173 vs. 364 per 1,000 ill returnees). Travel to sub-Saharan Africa contributed most to malaria in VFR travelers. In countries with large migrant populations, improved public health strategies are needed to reach VFR travelers.

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