Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Half of those travelling internationally not aware of potential health risks

04.11.2010
More than 30 million people in the United States travel to resource-limited areas of the world each year. This global mobility may contribute to the spread of infectious diseases – such as influenza, measles, and meningitis – and may also put individual travelers at risk for malaria, typhoid, dengue fever and hepatitis.

Despite these potential risks, a recent study conducted by the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and published in the Journal of Travel Medicine found that 46 percent of travelers to resource-limited countries did not seek health advice or vaccinations prior to departure.

The researchers surveyed more than 1,200 international travelers departing the United States at Boston Logan International Airport. The study was the result of a broad-based collaboration between MGH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Boston Public Health Commission, and officials from the Massachusetts Port Authority, which owns and operates Logan International Airport. Based on the results from this work, the CDC, travel medicine experts and Logan Airport officials hope to develop better tools to educate people about the public health risks associated with global travel.

Of those surveyed, 38 percent were traveling to countries described as low- and low-middle income by the World Bank's World Development Report, yet 46 percent of those travelers did not seek health advice prior to departure. Foreign-born travelers – including those traveling to visit family and friends, and those traveling alone or for vacation – were the least likely to have researched health information. The most commonly cited reason for not pursuing health information was a lack of concern about potential health problems.

Of the 54 percent of travelers to resource-limited countries who did seek health information, the Internet was the most common source, followed by primary care practitioners (PCPs).

"These results suggest that the Internet and PCPs are two promising avenues for disseminating information about traveling safely," says the study's lead author Regina C. LaRocque, MD, MPH, of MGH's Division of Infectious Diseases. "Offering online resources at the time of ticket purchase or through popular travel websites would likely reach a large audience of people in need of health advice."

The rapid global spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003 and new influenza strains in 2009 exemplified the role played by travelers in disseminating infectious diseases. More recently, dengue fever – a tropical disease found mainly in the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia – has been reported in the southern United States. In India, an epidemic of Chikungunya – a viral infection characterized by fever, headache, weakness and joint pain – was spread to Italy by travelers.

"International travel is the primary way many infections traverse the world," says Edward Ryan, MD, director of the Tropical and Geographic Medicine Center in the Division of Infectious Diseases at MGH and a senior author of the study. "What many people don't realize is that, without seeking the correct health information, they are putting themselves at increased risk of infection, as well as creating a public health risk in their home communities after they return."

This study was funded by CDC grants aimed at gathering demographic data on international travelers. Additional ongoing research on U.S. international travelers is being conducted through the Global TravEpiNet, a consortium of travel clinics coordinated by MGH that is focused on improving research and health information regarding international travel.

Ryan is an associate professor and LaRocque an assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Additional authors of the Journal of Travel Medicine study are Sowmya R. Rao, PhD, Athe Tsibris, MD, and Thomas Lawton of the Massachusetts General Hospital; M. Anita Barry, MD, MPH, of the Boston Public Health Commission; and Nina Marano, DVM, MPH, Gary Brunette, MD, and Emad Yanni, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $600 million. The hospital is home to major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, photomedicine, regenerative medicine, systems biology, transplantation biology.

Jennifer Gundersen Harris | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mgh.harvard.edu/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>