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Keywords:

  • Children;
  • International travellers;
  • Malaria;
  • Preparedness;
  • Vaccinations

Abstract

Aim

The number of children who travel to tropical and subtropical areas has increased. This study aimed to assess the preparedness of children departing from Greece to Africa and Asia, in terms of vaccination and malaria chemoprophylaxis.

Methods

An 18-month airport-based study was conducted in Athens between November 2011 and April 2013.

Results

Of the 183 children studied, 122 (66.7%) had a foreign nationality. Their main destinations were the Indian subcontinent (43.2%), South-East Asia (30.6%) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.2%). Just under three-quarters (73.2%) of the children were travelling to visit friends and relatives. Forty (21.9%) children had received pretravel services. Children visiting friends and relatives sought pretravel services less frequently than those who were not (17.9% versus 32.7%; p = 0.033). Female children and Greek nationals were significantly more likely to seeking pretravel services than males and foreign nationals (p = 0.007 and <0.001, respectively). The rabies and the typhoid fever vaccines were administered inadequately to children travelling to endemic areas, but malaria chemoprophylaxis was generally justified.

Conclusion

Travel medicine services for children in Greece should be improved. There is a particular need to communicate with the parents of children visiting friends and relatives.