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JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Travel medicine and vaccination as a task of infection prevention—data of the special consultation hours of the public health department Frankfurt on the Main, Germany, 2002-2004]

U Heudorf, P Tiarks-Jungk, S Stark
Das Gesundheitswesen 2006, 68 (5): 316-22
16773553

UNLABELLED: Infection prevention is one of the main tasks of the Public Health authorities. Because of hundreds of travel associated infections imported by travellers every year and considering increasing travel activities to tropical countries, travel medicine and consultation on the correct prevention measures including vaccination is becoming more and more important. Hence the data of the special consultation hours of the public health department of Frankfurt am Main are reported and discussed with regard to possible improvements.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The public health department of Frankfurt am Main has been offering special consultation hours for travel medicine for many years. Here, data derived from the anamneses of the clients from 2002 - 2004 are reported: personal data such as age, sex, travel destination as well as medical data such as vaccination and malaria prevention.

RESULTS: 2002 - 2004, more than 14,000 persons were seen in the consultation hours, more than 66% of them asked for travel health advice, about 25% of them asked for standard vaccination (such as influenza), some others asked for attestation or certification. More than 20,000 doses of vaccines were given, the most important vaccination against hepatitis A (n = 5791), hepatitis B (n = 4064), typhoid fever (n = 2718) and yellow fever (n = 2473). 2814 were informed with regard to malaria prevention, including recipes. 7814 persons with complete data on their reason for travel were subjected to more detailed analysis: 75% of them were holiday tourists, 18% travelled as "hikers", 7% were business travellers and less than 1% of them planned a round-the-world tour. The most frequent travel destinations were: Asian or African countries about 33% each, 25% Middle or South America. Thailand, South Africa with Namibia, Brazil and India were the most important countries. The time from health consultation to the beginning of the journey was too short for full vaccine protection against typhoid fever and meningococcal disease in 10% and against rabies in 44% of the consultants. There were no significant differences between holiday tourists, business and "hikers" travellers.

CONCLUSION: According to many studies, only one-third of the travellers going abroad, especially to developing countries, obtain travel health information. Hence, the clients of our consultation hours are a positive selection. Nevertheless, great need for improvement could be seen as well. In many of the clients the time from getting health information and vaccination was too short for obtaining complete vaccination protection. People travelling to countries where most hepatitis A infections are obtained and re-imported home, such as Turkey and Tunisia and other Mediterranean countries almost never came for health advice and vaccination. Therefore, public health authorities should improve and increase their publicity campaigns for travel health and vaccination in order to prevent travel-associated infections and re-importation of such diseases.

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