Current Emergency and Hospital Medicine Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 141–152 | Cite as

Importance of a Travel History in Evaluation of Respiratory Infections

  • Theresa N. Duong
  • Sarah E. WaldmanEmail author
Infectious Disease (H. Nguyen, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Infectious Disease


Purpose of Review

International travel has increased at a fast pace and will continue to rapidly rise. Concomitantly, with this increase in travel is the increase in post travel-related diseases, such as respiratory illnesses. Identifying the cause of the posttravel respiratory illness is a complex challenge for many healthcare professionals because similar presentations occur for both infectious and noninfectious causes. Not only is diagnosis important but also transmission prevention. In the last two decades, there have been several severe infectious respiratory syndromes that have spread through international travel causing epidemics in many countries.

Recent Findings

A detailed travel history with the chronology of symptoms paired with the patient's medical risk factors and exposures along with some basic knowledge of infectious respiratory illnesses will help facilitate clinical decision making. This framework will help create a broad, but appropriate differential diagnosis to guide clinical workup, prevent delays in diagnosis, and implement the appropriate precautions to prevent transmission if appropriate.


The foundation to diagnosing a travel-related respiratory illness lies within integrating the patient's travel history, comorbid conditions, clinical presentation, exposures, and mode of transmission. A timely and accurate diagnosis benefits not only the patient but also the surrounding community to prevent further individual transmission, epidemics, and pandemics.


Travel history Respiratory infections Travel-related illness 


Compliance with Ethical Guidelines

Conflict of Interests

Drs May & Okamoto declare no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain studies with human or animal subjects performed by the author.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, are highlighted as: •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Hospital Medicine, Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of California, Davis Medical CenterSacramentoUSA
  2. 2.Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of California, Davis Medical CenterSacramentoUSA

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