Background: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a sharp decline of post-travel patient encounters at the European sentinel surveillance network (EuroTravNet) of travellers’ health. We report on the impact of COVID-19 on travel-related infectious diseases as recorded by EuroTravNet clinics. Methods: Travelers who presented between January 1, 2019 and September 30, 2021 were included. Comparisons were made between the pre-pandemic period (14 months from January 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020); and the pandemic period (19 months from March 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021). Results: Of the 15,124 visits to the network during the 33-month observation period, 10,941 (72%) were during the pre-pandemic period, and 4183 (28%) during the pandemic period. Average monthly visits declined from 782/month (pre-COVID-19 era) to 220/month (COVID-19 pandemic era). Among non-migrants the top-10 countries of exposure changed after onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; destinations such as Italy and Austria, where COVID-19 exposure peaked in the first months, replaced typical travel destinations in Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, India). There was a small decline in migrant patients reported, with little change in the top countries of exposure (Bolivia, Mali). The three top diagnoses with the largest overall decreases in relative frequency were acute gastroenteritis (−5.3%), rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (−2.8%), and dengue (−2.6%). Apart from COVID-19 (which rose from 0.1% to 12.7%), the three top diagnoses with the largest overall relative frequency increase were schistosomiasis (+4.9%), strongyloidiasis (+2.7%), and latent tuberculosis (+2.4%). Conclusions: A marked COVID-19 pandemic-induced decline in global travel activities is reflected in reduced travel-related infectious diseases sentinel surveillance reporting.

Fuente: Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease
Available online 18 May 2023