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The imported infections among foreign travelers in China: an observational study

Background: In the past few decades, globalization has rendered more frequent and intensive population movement between countries, which has changed the original disease spectrum and brought a huge health impact on the global population including China. This study aims to describe the spectrum and epidemiological characteristics of imported infections among foreign travelers travelling to China.

Methods: The data on imported infections among foreign travelers were obtained from Custom Inbound Screening System (CISS) and the National Notifiable Infectious Disease Reporting System (NNIDRS). All the infections were classified into respiratory, gastrointestinal, vector-borne, blood/sex-transmitted and mucocutaneous diseases, of which case numbers and incidences were calculated and the proportions were compared among subgroups.

Results: In total, 17,189 travelers diagnosed with 58 imported infectious diseases were reported from 2014 to 2018, with an overall incidence of 122.59 per million. Respiratory infection (7,351 cases, mainly influenza) and blood/sex-transmitted diseases (6,114 cases mainly Hepatitis B and HIV infection) were the most frequently diagnosed diseases, followed by vector-borne infections (3,128 cases, mainly dengue fever and malaria). The highest case number was from Asia and Europe, while the highest incidence rate was from Africa (296.00 per million). When specific diagnosis was compared, both the highest absolute case number and incidence were observed for influenza. An obvious seasonal pattern was observed for vector-borne diseases, with the annual epidemic spanning from July to November. The origin-destination matrices disclosed the movement of imported infection followed specific routes.

Conclusions: Our study provided a profile of infectious diseases among foreign travelers travelling to China and pinpointed the target regions, seasons and populations for prevention and control, to attain an informed control of imported infections in China.


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