Although infections represent the most common health problem of travellers abroad, data on morbidity and incidences of various infections are scarce.
Data on infections of Finnish travellers during 2010-2012 were retrieved from the database of SOS International, an assistance organization covering 95% of Finns requiring aid abroad. The study included 30,086 cases. For incidence calculation, the data were linked to the numbers of Finns visiting these regions during the same period as recorded by the Official Statistics of Finland.
The incidence of infections was particularly high in Africa, southern Europe plus the eastern Mediterranean, and Asia plus Oceania. The most frequent diagnoses were acute gastroenteritis (38.0%) and respiratory-tract infections (RTI) (34.5%), followed by infections of the ear (12.6%), skin or subcutaneous tissue (5.1%), urogenital tract (4.2%), eye (3.1%), and systemic febrile infections (2.2%). Vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) accounted for 0.8% of cases, with varicella as most (49%) and influenza as second-most (27%) common.
Incidence of infections was higher in southern than in eastern and western Europe. Gastroenteritis and RTI proved the most frequent diagnoses, whereas systemic febrile infections were uncommon. Despite pre-travel immunizations, VPDs still occurred; pre-travel consultation should cover both varicella and influenza.