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The contribution of travellers visiting friends and relatives to notified infectious diseases in Australia: state-based enhanced surveillance


Heywood, AE and Zwar, N and Forssman, BL and Seale, H and Stephens, N and Musto, J and Lane, C and Polkinghorne, B and Sheikh, M and Smith, M and Worth, H and Macintyre, CR, The contribution of travellers visiting friends and relatives to notified infectious diseases in Australia: state-based enhanced surveillance, Epidemiology and Infection, 144, (16) pp. 3554-3563. ISSN 0950-2688 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Cambridge University Press

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0950268816001734


Immigrants and their children who return to their country of origin to visit friends and relatives (VFR) are at increased risk of acquiring infectious diseases compared to other travellers. VFR travel is an important disease control issue, as one quarter of Australia's population are foreign-born and one quarter of departing Australian international travellers are visiting friends and relatives. We conducted a 1-year prospective enhanced surveillance study in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia to determine the contribution of VFR travel to notifiable diseases associated with travel, including typhoid, paratyphoid, measles, hepatitis A, hepatitis E, malaria and chikungunya. Additional data on characteristics of international travel were collected. Recent international travel was reported by 180/222 (81%) enhanced surveillance cases, including all malaria, chikungunya and paratyphoid cases. The majority of cases who acquired infections during travel were immigrant Australians (96, 53%) or their Australian-born children (43, 24%). VFR travel was reported by 117 (65%) travel-associated cases, highest for typhoid (31/32, 97%). Cases of children (aged <18 years) (86%) were more frequently VFR travellers compared to adult travellers (57%, P < 0001). VFR travel is an important contributor to imported disease in Australia. Communicable disease control strategies targeting these travellers, such as targeted health promotion, are likely to impact importation of these travel-related infections.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Australia, enhanced surveillance, immigrants, infectious diseases, travel, visiting friends and relatives, travellers
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Epidemiology
Research Field:Epidemiology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Disease distribution and transmission (incl. surveillance and response)
UTAS Author:Stephens, N (Associate Professor Nicola Stephens)
ID Code:132643
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2019-05-15
Last Modified:2019-07-26

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