Travellers to tropics highly prone to filarial infections

December 26th, 2007 - 1:24 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, December 26 (ANI): Travellers to tropical countries are highly prone to filarial infections, with river blindness being the most commonly acquired infection between 1997 and 2004, according to a study.

A review of data collected through the GeoSentinel Surveillance Networka network of travel/tropical medicine clinics on six continents that was established in 1995 for gauging illnesses following travel to the tropics and subtropicshas given rise to this finding.

Reviewers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, have also determined that filarial infections responsible for such diseases as river blindness, elephantiasis, and African eyeworm illness made up 271 (0.62 percent) of the 43,722 medical conditions reported during that time period.

Dr. Thomas Nutman, a member of the reviewing team, says that the data showed that immigrants from filarial-endemic regions were most likely to come to the travel/tropical diseases clinics, and that long-term travel of more than one month was more likely to be associated with filarial infection than were shorter trips.

He has also revealed that the most commonly acquired filarial infection (37 percent) was Onchocerca volvulus, the worm that causes river blindness.

The researcher says that, though clinical presentation of filarial disease is known to differ between visitors to and natives of endemic regions, the new analysis provides a quantitative assessment of the characteristics of those who acquire filarial infections following travel.

He also says that the information collected by the GeoSentinel network can be used to assess not only acute but also chronic infections.

The NIAID report further states that the data collected by the network will provide a comprehensive backdrop to pre-travel advice and post-travel treatment for people who are at risk of acquiring a filarial infection. (ANI)

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