Infectious Disease Acquisition in Pediatric International Travelers: A 10-Year Review at a Canadian Tertiary Care Hospital

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

1 The Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI), Dublin, Ireland

2 Centre for Global Child Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

3 Division of Infectious Diseases, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

4 Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

5 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Abstract

Introduction: Children are frequent international travelers and may acquire serious infectious diseases during travel. We undertook a retrospective 10-year review examining children admitted to hospital with infectious diseases associated with international travel at a Canadian tertiary care pediatric hospital.
Methods: Retrospective chart review was performed on select travel-related infectious diseases in children ranging in age from birth to <18 years who were admitted at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto between January 1st, 2009 and December 31st, 2018. Cases were identified using ICD-10 discharge codes. Patient demographics, travel history, epidemiological data, disease, and prophylaxis history were documented.
Results: A total of 154 children were hospitalized with a travel-related infection over a 10-year period. The most common diagnoses were typhoid or paratyphoid fever (n = 58, 38%), malaria (n = 57, 37%), and hepatitis A (n = 14, 8%). The median age of those infected was 8 years (IQR 3-12). There were 120 (78%) children who were Canadian born, 31 (20%) immigrants and 3 (2%) who were visiting Canada. Of those who lived in Canada, 112 (90%) travelled for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives (VFR), 6 (5%) for tourism and 2 (2%) for humanitarian work. India was typically known for the acquisition of infection for typhoid or paratyphoid fever, and Nigeria for malaria. Hepatitis A was most commonly acquired in Pakistan.
Conclusion: Imported infectious diseases continue to be a significant issue in travelers returning from trips suggesting improved preventative pre-travel care. VFR children are a group that should, in particular, be targeted for appropriate pre-travel advice and care.

Keywords