Illness in travelers visiting friends and relatives: a review of the GeoSentinel Surveillance Network

Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Nov 1;43(9):1185-93. doi: 10.1086/507893. Epub 2006 Sep 26.


Travelers returning to their country of origin to visit friends and relatives (VFRs) have increased risk of travel-related health problems. We examined GeoSentinel data to compare travel characteristics and illnesses acquired by 3 groups of travelers to low-income countries: VFRs who had originally been immigrants (immigrant VFRs), VFRs who had not originally been immigrants (traveler VFRs), and tourist travelers. Immigrant VFRs were predominantly male, had a higher mean age, and disproportionately required treatment as inpatients. Only 16% of immigrant VFRs sought pretravel medical advice. Proportionately more immigrant VFRs visited sub-Saharan Africa and traveled for >30 days, whereas tourist travelers more often traveled to Asia. Systemic febrile illnesses (including malaria), nondiarrheal intestinal parasitic infections, respiratory syndromes, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted diseases were more commonly diagnosed among immigrant VFRs, whereas acute diarrhea was comparatively less frequent. Immigrant VFRs and traveler VFRs had different demographic characteristics and types of travel-related illnesses. A greater proportion of immigrant VFRs presented with serious, potentially preventable travel-related illnesses than did tourist travelers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Communicable Diseases / classification*
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Friends*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Travel