Background. Influenza is a common vaccine-preventable disease among international travelers, but few data exist to guide use of reciprocal hemisphere or out-of-season vaccines.
Methods. We analyzed records of ill-returned travelers in the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network to determine latitudinal travel patterns in those who acquired influenza abroad.
Results. Among 37,542 ill-returned travelers analyzed, 59 were diagnosed with influenza A and 11 with influenza B. Half of travelers from temperate regions to the tropics departed outside influenza season. Twelve travelers crossed hemispheres from one temperate region to another, five during influenza season. Ten of 12 travelers (83%) with influenza who crossed hemispheres were managed as inpatients. Proportionate morbidity estimates for influenza A acquisition were highest for travel to the East-Southeast Asian influenza circulation network with 6.13 (95% CI 4.5–8.2) cases per 1000 ill-returned travelers, a sevenfold increased proportionate morbidity compared to travel outside the network.
Conclusions. Alternate hemisphere and out-of-season influenza vaccine availability may benefit a small proportion of travelers. Proportionate morbidity estimates by region of travel can inform pre-travel consultation and emphasize the ease of acquisition of infections such as influenza during travel.