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Imported diseases in travellers presenting to the emergency department after a stay in a malaria-endemic country: a retrospective observational study

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BACKGROUND: We aimed to investigate the aetiology and outcomes of illnesses in patients presenting to an emergency department after travelling to a malaria-endemic country, in order to raise awareness of both tropical and cosmopolitan diseases. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed for all patients who underwent blood smear testing for malaria at the Emergency Department of the University Hospitals Leuven from 2017 to 2020. Patient characteristics, results of laboratory and radiological examinations, diagnoses, disease course and outcome were collected and analysed. RESULTS: A total of 253 patients were included in the study. The majority of ill travellers returned from Sub-Saharan Africa (68.4%) and Southeast Asia (19.4%). Their diagnoses fell into three major syndrome categories: systemic febrile illness (30.8%), inflammatory syndrome of unknown origin (23.3%) and acute diarrhoea (18.2%). Malaria (15.8%) was the most common specific diagnosis in patients with systemic febrile illness, followed by influenza (5.1%), rickettsiosis (3.2%), dengue (1.6%), enteric fever (0.8%), chikungunya (0.8%) and leptospirosis (0.8%). The presence of hyperbilirubinemia and thrombocytopenia increased the probability of malaria, with a likelihood ratio of 4.01 and 6.03, respectively. Seven patients (2.8%) were treated in the intensive care unit, and none died. CONCLUSION: Systemic febrile illness, inflammatory syndrome of unknown origin and acute diarrhoea were the three major syndromic categories in returning travellers presenting to our emergency department after a stay in a malaria-endemic country. Malaria was the most common specific diagnosis in patients with systemic febrile illness. None of the patients died.
Tijdschrift: Tropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines
ISSN: 2055-0936
Issue: 1
Volume: 9
Jaar van publicatie:2023
Toegankelijkheid:Open