IBD travelers are not at higher risk of contracting intestinal infections

January 25, 2012, American Gastroenterological Association

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) travelers have an increased risk of illness during trips to industrialized countries, but not to developing or tropical regions, according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

" patients are often advised to avoid travel, especially to the developing world. However, we found that the absolute risk of illness is small and most episodes were mild," said Shomron Ben-Horin, MD, of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel and lead author of this study. "If an inflammatory bowel disease patient has been in remission for at least three months, I recommend they take their dream vacation."

In this study, doctors studied 222 IBD patients and 224 healthy individuals (controls) during 1,099 total trips. They collected data via structured questionnaires, personal interviews and chart reviews. While traveling to , illness occurred during 13.9 percent of the trips made by IBD patients in contrast to 3.3 percent of trips made by controls. However, during travel to developing or , the rate of illness was similar between both groups: 17 percent for IBD patients versus 21 percent for controls. Because traveler diarrhea and other intestinal predominately afflict travelers to developing countries, this unexpected observation suggests that IBD travelers as a whole do not stand a higher risk of contracting intestinal infections while traveling compared with the non-IBD population. Interestingly, IBD patients who had set out to travel after enjoying more than three months without symptomatic disease (a state termed as clinical remission) had an overall similar risk of illness during the trip as their healthy counterparts, regardless of the country destinations.

IBD is a chronic and often debilitating intestinal disorder, which adversely affects quality of life, including concern over safety issues in relation to traveling abroad. In the absence of enough data on the risks of traveling among IBD patients, many physicians advise IBD patients against traveling, especially to developing regions of the world. Insurance companies are often reluctant to insure IBD travelers, a refusal that is hard to rebut in the absence of data.

Taken together, these restrictions on traveling severely impede the overall quality of life of IBD patients. Until now, it was unclear whether this significant toll was based on a genuine increase in health risk during traveling in IBD patients. Results from this study indicate a comparable safety of travelling in the tropics for IBD patients and healthy individuals. The results also suggest that traveling while in clinical remission of at least three months should be strongly advocated, as it significantly reduces the risk for illness during traveling. However, the investigators stress that travelers to developing and tropic regions of the world are still at risk of several vaccine-preventable infections and should always consult a travel clinic before the trip and get the appropriate vaccinations.

Explore further: Inflammatory bowel disease emerges as a global disease

More information: To learn more about IBD, please read the AGA brochure, "Understanding Inflammatory Bowel Disease" at www.gastro.org/patient-center/ … matory-bowel-disease

Related Stories

Inflammatory bowel disease emerges as a global disease

January 4, 2012
The incidence and prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are increasing with time and in different regions around the world, according to a new study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological ...

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease appear to be at increased risk for post-operative DVT, PE

October 17, 2011
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) undergoing surgery may be more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT; blood clot in a deep vein in the thigh or leg) or pulmonary embolism (PE; blood clot in blood vessels ...

IBD patients face increased skin cancer risk

November 21, 2011
Certain patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may have an increased risk of skin cancer, which is intensified by the use of immunosuppressant medications , according to two new studies in Gastroenterology, the official ...

Recommended for you

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Human protein may aid neuron invasion by virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease

January 11, 2018
A human protein known as prohibitin may play a significant role in infection of the nervous system by EV71, one of several viruses that can cause hand, foot, and mouth disease. Issac Too of the National University of Singapore ...

Untangling how Epstein-Barr virus infects cells

January 11, 2018
A team led by scientists at Northwestern Medicine has discovered a new epithelial receptor for Epstein-Barr virus, according to a study published recently in Nature Microbiology.

0 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.