Travel and Tropical Medicine Practice Among Infectious Disease Practitioners


  • Presented in part at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, October 29 to November 1, 2009, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Judy A. Streit, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, 200 Hawkins Dr, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. E-mail:


Background. Infectious disease specialists who evaluate international travelers before or after their trips need skills to prevent, recognize, and treat an increasingly broad range of infectious diseases. Wide variation exists in training and percentage effort among providers of this care. In parallel, there may be variations in approach to pre-travel consultation and the types of travel-related illness encountered. Aggregate information from travel-medicine providers may reveal practice patterns and novel trends in infectious illness acquired through travel.

Methods. The 1,265 members of the Infectious Disease Society of America's Emerging Infections Network were queried by electronic survey about their training in travel medicine, resources used, pre-travel consultations, and evaluation of ill-returning travelers. The survey also captured information on whether any of 10 particular conditions had been diagnosed among ill-returning travelers, and if these diagnoses were perceived to be changing in frequency.

Results. A majority of respondents (69%) provided both pre-travel counseling and post-travel evaluations, with significant variation in the numbers of such consultations. A majority of all respondents (61%) reported inadequate training in travel medicine during their fellowship years. However, a majority of recent graduates (55%) reported adequate preparation. Diagnoses of malaria, traveler's diarrhea, and typhoid fever were reported by the most respondents (84, 71, and 53%, respectively).

Conclusions. The percent effort dedicated to pre-travel evaluation and care of the ill-returning traveler vary widely among infectious disease specialists, although a majority participate in these activities. On the basis of respondents' self-assessment, recent fellowship training is reported to equip graduates with better skills in these areas than more remote training. Ongoing monitoring of epidemiologic trends of travel-related illness is warranted.