Illness and Injury to Students on a School Excursion to Peru
Article first published online: 11 MAR 2014
© 2014 International Society of Travel Medicine
Journal of Travel Medicine
Volume 21, Issue 3, pages 183–188, May/June 2014
How to Cite
Shaw, M. T. M., Harding, E. and Leggat, P. A. (2014), Illness and Injury to Students on a School Excursion to Peru. Journal of Travel Medicine, 21: 183–188. doi: 10.1111/jtm.12105
- Issue published online: 15 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 11 MAR 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 4 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Received: 18 SEP 2013
School-organized travels abroad provide an opportunity for students to undertake supervised travel that reinforces scholastic study of various geographical locations under the direction and protection of experienced tour leaders and health professional support. Little is known concerning the nature of illnesses and injuries occurring on overseas school excursions. This study was designed to investigate the prevalence of injury and illness suffered by older teenagers on a school excursion to South America.
In 2010, the school's tour physician (EH) diagnosed and recorded all illnesses and injuries among 29 school girls and 6 accompanying adults on a school excursion to Peru. Information recorded included age, sex, the nature of the presenting illness, number of days into the tour, the assessment of the condition, and the treatment employed during the excursion's field phase of 21 days.
A total of 32 (91%) travelers sought medical advice at least once for a total of 371 consultations, resulting in 153 separate diagnoses. The mean age of the students was 16 years with six adults accompanying the students being significantly older. Primary illnesses diagnosed were related to the following systems and conditions: gastrointestinal (58, 37%), respiratory (25, 16%), altitude sickness (19, 12%), genitourinary (8, 5%), dermatological (10, 7%), trauma (7, 5%), neurological (7, 5%), anxiety or psychological adjustment (7, 5%), adverse drug reactions (4, 3%), and musculoskeletal (5, 3%). The most commonly used medications were antidiarrheal and antiemetic medication. There were six accidents during the journey resulting in minor soft-tissue injuries. There were no deaths or other major accidents requiring emergency evacuation or hospitalization.
On this school excursion, the health problems encountered were consistent with those reported for other specialized tours, including expeditions and premium tours, although altitude illness needs to be carefully planned for in tours to higher elevation destinations as in South America. As well as being part of the service provided to the school students, the inclusion of a physician with appropriate medical supplies for this tour increased the independence of the travel group. A proposed medical kit for such an excursion is presented.