Background. Visiting friends and relatives (VFRs), especially young VFRs, are increasingly recognized in the industrialized world as a high-risk group of travelers.
Methods. We performed a descriptive, cross-sectional design study of cases of malaria, hepatitis A, and typhoid reported to the Quebec registry of notifiable diseases between January 2004 and December 2007, occurring in VFRs and non-VFRs travelers.
Results. VFRs account for 52.9% of malaria cases, 56.9% of hepatitis A cases, and 94.4% of typhoid cases reported in Quebec travelers. Almost all (91.6%) of the malaria cases among VFRs were acquired in Africa, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. An important proportion of malaria cases among VFRs (86.4%) were due to Plasmodium falciparum. The vast majority (76.6%) of typhoid fever cases among VFRs were reported by travelers who had visited the Indian subcontinent. Among VFRs, 40% of total cases were under 20 y of age, compared to less than 6% among non-VFRs. Those under 20 years of age also accounted for 16.9% of malaria cases, 50% of typhoid cases, and 65.2% of hepatitis A cases among VFRs.
Conclusion. Our study clearly shows that VFR children should be a primary target group for pre-travel preventive measures.