Date: 02 Feb 2012

Morbidity of foreign travelers in Attica, Greece: a retrospective study

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Abstract

Over the last decade, travel medicine was mainly focused on the epidemiology of diseases among travelers to developing countries. However, less is known about travel-related morbidity in Europe. We evaluated the demographic and clinical characteristics of foreign travelers to Greece during a 5-year period (01/01/2005 - 31/12/2009) who sought medical services from a network of physicians performing house-call visits (SOS Doctors) in the area of Attica, Greece. Overall, 3,414 foreign travelers [children (≤18 years of age): 27%] were identified; 151 (4.4%) required transfer to a hospital. The most common clinical entities were: respiratory disorders (34%), diarrheal disease (19%), musculoskeletal (12%), dermatologic (7%), non-diarrheal gastrointestinal (6%), and genitourinary (5%) disorders. Respiratory disorders were the most frequent diagnosis during all seasons, followed by diarrheal gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal disorders. Respiratory and dental conditions were observed significantly more frequently in children. Respiratory disorders were observed significantly more frequently during winter (47%) compared to spring (36.7%), summer (30.9%), and autumn (30.5%), (p < 0.01). Despite the limitations of the retrospective methodology, our findings suggest that mild, self-limited respiratory events may be the prevalent cause for seeking primary health care during travel to Greece. Our findings may be extrapolated to other countries with similar climatic and socioeconomic status.