Vaccination against infectious disease low priority for Australian travellers

New research led by the University of Sydney's Family Medicine Research Centre reveals many Australians are inadequately protecting against potentially serious infectious diseases before travelling abroad.

Researchers found more than one-in-two (57 percent) of those surveyed did not seek pre-travel health advice prior to international travel, despite having travelled to an at-risk destination for contracting at least one of the travel-related infectious diseases included in the study.

The study (PDF, 290KB), conducted between May and June 2012 in collaboration with CSL, involved 100 GPs nationwide who surveyed 2934 patients to analyse international travel patterns, travel health behaviours and pre-travel among Australian travellers in a general practice setting.

Christopher Harrison, senior from the Family Medicine Research Centre, who led the research, says the results indicate many Australian travellers may be failing to avoid unnecessary while travelling abroad.

"A low proportion of respondents were fully vaccinated before travelling to an at-risk destination for a range of infectious diseases, including vaccination against Japanese encephalitis with only two percent coverage and rabies at only three percent," Mr Harrison said.

for other diseases was also low, including (42 percent), (46 percent), and Hepatitis A (50 percent) infections.

Among those visiting at-risk destinations, common reasons given for not being fully vaccinated included patient refusal (31 percent); patient did not speak to their GP (16 percent); or leaving vaccination too late (7 percent).

"However, patients who sought advice from their GP prior to international travel were significantly more likely to be fully vaccinated against diseases common to their destination, thereby potentially avoiding serious infections while abroad," Mr Harrison said.

"These patients were also more likely to be given health advice specific to their travel destination, such as potential risks and ways to minimise infection while abroad, including preventing mosquito bites and eating and drinking safely."

Professor Robert Booy, Head of Clinical Research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance at Sydney Medical School says the results are concerning given that travellers play a significant role in spreading infectious diseases across international borders, through their travel patterns and behaviours.

"Australians are travelling in record numbers, making almost eight million short-term overseas trips within a year, with Indonesia the nation's second most popular travel destination. These travellers may be at increased risk of infectious diseases, including , hepatitis A and malaria."

"Yet many Western travellers, including Australians, do not consult a health professional prior to travelling and may be unaware of their need to protect themselves against .

"Vaccinated travellers are less likely to contaminate other travellers or the local population with various potentially serious diseases," Professor Booy said.

"Australians travelling overseas should be visiting their GP or travel health clinic at least six-to-eight weeks prior to departure."

More information: sydney.edu.au/medicine/fmrc/pu… _and_vaccination.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Malaria on the increase in the UK

Jul 04, 2008

A huge rise in the numbers of UK residents travelling to malaria endemic areas, combined with a failure to use prevention measures, has significantly increased cases of imported falciparum malaria in the UK over the past ...

Recommended for you

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

15 hours ago

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

22 hours ago

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

Scientists find Ebola virus is mutating

22 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers working at Institut Pasteur in France have found that the Ebola virus is mutating "a lot" causing concern in the African countries where the virus has killed over eight thous ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.