Fever in the returned traveler

A J Magill
Infectious Disease Clinics of North America 1998, 12 (2): 445-69
The most important cause of fever in the returned traveler is malaria. All febrile patients in which malaria is epidemiologically possible require urgent evaluation for P. falciparum malaria, which can be rapidly fatal in the nonimmune patient. Early diagnosis and therapy can prevent severe morbidity and mortality. Other less common causes of undifferentiated fever include acute schistosomiasis, the enteric fevers, rickettsial diseases, leptospirosis, and dengue fever. Early empiric therapy for suspected leptospirosis and the rickettsial infections is encouraged to decrease morbidity and mortality. About a quarter of febrile patients do not have an etiologic agent determined for their illness but recover without sequelae. Patients with fever and hemorrhagic manifestations within 3 weeks of their return need to be isolated for the remote possibility of a highly transmissible agent. Although the febrile traveler is always a challenge, the real world differential diagnosis is limited and a systematic approach via the history, physical examination, and selected laboratory tests is usually sufficient to confirm the diagnosis or eliminate potentially serious infections.


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