Risk activities and pre-travel health seeking practices of notified cases of imported infectious diseases in Australia.

Thursday, 21st of September 2017 Print

J Travel Med. 2017 Sep 1;24(5). doi: 10.1093/jtm/tax044.

Risk activities and pre-travel health seeking practices of notified cases of imported infectious diseases in Australia.

Paudel P1 Raina C1 Zwar N1 Seale H1 Worth H1 Sheikh M1 Heywood AE1.

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Abstract

Background:

Travellers are at risk of acquiring infectious diseases during travel with risks differing by destination travel and traveller characteristics. A pre-travel health consultation may minimize this risk. However uptake of pre-travel health advice remains low. We investigated pre-travel health preparations and disease-specific risk behaviours among notified cases of selected travel-associated infectious diseases imported into Australia.

Methods:

Prospective enhanced surveillance of notified cases of typhoid paratyphoid measles hepatitis A hepatitis E malaria and chikungunya was conducted in two Australian states between February 2013 and January 2014. Details of pre-travel health preparation and disease-specific risk behaviours were collected.

Results:

Among 180 cases associated with international travel 28% were <18 years 65% were VFR travellers and 22% were frequent travellers having travelled ≥5 times in the past 5 years. 25% had sought pre-travel advice from a healthcare provider and 16% reported a pre-travel vaccine. Seeking pre-travel health advice did not differ by immigrant status ( P  = 0.22) or by reason for travel ( P  = 0.13) but was more commonly sought by first time travellers ( P  = 0.03). Travellers visiting friends and relatives were more likely to report at-risk activities of brushing teeth with tap water ( P  < 0.001) and eating uncooked food ( P  = 0.03) during travel compared to other travellers.

Conclusions:

Pre-travel health advice seeking practices and vaccine uptake was suboptimal among cases of notified disease. The results of this study highlight the need for a better understanding of barriers to pre-travel health seeking particularly among high risk travellers to reduce the importation of infectious diseases into Australia.

 

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