Travelers’ diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms among Boston-area international travelers
Stoney, Rhett J.
Han, Pauline V.
Barnett, Elizabeth D.
Wilson, Mary E.
Jentes, Emily S.
Benoit, Christine M.
NacLeod, William B.
Hamer, Davidson H.
Chen, Lin H.
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Citation (published version)Stoney, Rhett J., et al. "Travelers' diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms among boston-area international travelers." The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 96.6 (2017): 1388-1393. https://doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.16-0447
INTRODUCTION: Travelers' diarrhea (TD) and non-TD gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are common among international travelers. In a study of short-term travelers from Switzerland to developing countries, the most common symptom experienced was severe diarrhea (8.5%) followed by vomiting or abdominal cramps (4%).1 GI illnesses were the most frequently reported diagnoses (34%) among ill-returned travelers to GeoSentinel clinics.2 Of those returning to U.S. GeoSentinel clinics, acute diarrhea (30%) was the most common diagnosis.3 In one cohort of U.S. travelers, 46% reported diarrhea.4 GI illnesses can last from 2 days to weeks or longer,5 disrupting plans during travel or after returning home. Eighty percent of those who experienced diarrhea during travel treated themselves with medication and 6% sought medical care. METHODS: The Boston Area Travel Medicine Network (BATMN) is a research collaboration of travel clinics in the greater Boston area representing urban-, suburban-, academic-, and university-affiliated facilities. A convenience sample of travelers ≥ 18 years of age attending three BATMN clinics between 2009 and 2011 for pre-travel consultations completed pre-travel surveys, at least one survey weekly during travel, and a post-travel survey 2–4 weeks after return. Travelers were asked to complete a survey at the end of each week of their trip. Institutional review board approvals were obtained at all sites and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and participants provided written informed consent. Information collected included demographic and trip characteristics, vaccines and medications recommended/prescribed before travel, medications taken during travel, dietary practices during travel (consumption of tap water, ice in drinks, unpasteurized dairy products, and salads), symptoms experienced, and impact of illness during and after travel. Vaccinations, prescriptions, and travel health advice given during the pre-travel consultation were recorded by a clinician, and the remainder of the surveys were completed by the traveler. Data were entered into a password-protected database (CS Pro, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC). RESULTS: We enrolled 987 travelers; 628 (64%) completed all three parts (pre-, during, and post-travel) and were included in the study. Comparison of the 628 to the 359 who did not complete all three parts (noncompleters) revealed no differences, except that completion rates were higher for white travelers than all other racial/ethnic groups (P < 0.001) and for older travelers (median age 47 years versus 32 years in noncompleters, P < 0.001).11 Of those 628 travelers, 208 (33%) experienced TD, 45 (7%) experienced non-TD GI symptoms, 147 (23%) experienced non-GI symptoms, and 228 (36%) did not experience any symptoms during or after travel. Of the 208 with TD, 140 (67%) reported diarrhea as their only symptom, whereas 33 (16%) also experienced nausea/vomiting, 23 (11%) abdominal pain, and 27 (13%) fever (Table 1). Of the 45 who reported non-TD GI symptoms, 21 (47%) experienced nausea/vomiting, 19 (42%) experienced constipation, and 10 (22%) experienced abdominal pain during or after travel (Table 2). Almost all travelers (99%) received advice about food and water precautions and diarrhea management during pre-travel consultation.
RightsCopyright 2017 The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
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