Travel-related infections presenting in Europe: a 20-year analysis of EuroTravNet surveillance data


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Background: Disease epidemiology of (re-)emerging infectious diseases is changing rapidly, rendering surveillance of travel-associated illness important.

Methods: We evaluated travel-related illness encountered at EuroTravNet clinics, the European surveillance sub-network of GeoSentinel, between March 1, 1998 and March 31, 2018.

Findings: 103,739 ill travellers were evaluated, including 11,239 (10.8%) migrants, 89,620 (86.4%) patients seen post-travel, and 2,880 (2.8%) during and after travel. Despite increasing numbers of patient encounters over 20 years, the regions of exposure by year of clinic visits have remained stable. In 5-year increments, greater proportions of patients were migrants or visiting friends and relatives (VFR); business travel-associated illness remained stable; tourism-related illness decreased. Falciparum malaria was amongst the most-frequently diagnosed illnesses with 5,254 cases (5.1% of all patients) and the most-frequent cause of death (risk ratio versus all other illnesses 2.5:1). Animal exposures requiring rabies post-exposure prophylaxis increased from 0.7% (1998-2002) to 3.6% (2013-2018). The proportion of patients with seasonal influenza increased from zero in 1998-2002 to 0.9% in 2013-2018. There were 44 cases of viral haemorrhagic fever, most during the past five years. Arboviral infection numbers increased significantly as did the range of presenting arboviral diseases, dengue and chikungunya diagnoses increased by 2.6% and 1%, respectively.

Interpretation: Travel medicine must adapt to serve the changing profile of travellers, with an increase in migrants and persons visiting relatives and friends and the strong emergence of vector-borne diseases, with potential for further local transmission in Europe. (C) 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100001
JournalLancet Regional Health - Europe
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Eurotravnet
  • Geosentinel
  • Infectious diseases
  • Sentinel surveillance
  • travel


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