It is predicted that approximately two billion tourist trips to foreign countries will be taken worldwide each year by 2030. Germany has long been among the most active countries in tourism. The frequency of illness among persons returning from developing and newly industrialized countries is 43-79%. The appropriate diagnosis of fever in returning travelers is a clinically important matter, as it can be a sign of a life-threatening illness. This review is based on publications (2001-2022) retrieved by a selective search in PubMed for studies on the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of febrile illnesses in returning travelers, or on specific tropical diseases. Diarrhea, fever, and skin changes are the most common manifestations of disease after travel to tropical and subtropical areas. The diagnostic evaluation should be performed in a series of steps, beginning with a precise travel history and the identification of specific risk factors. Among travelers returning from sub-Saharan Africa, Plasmodium falciparum malaria is the most common cause of fever on presentation to centers for infectious diseases and tropical medicine, affecting approximately 50 per 1000 travelers. Among persons returning from travel to Southeast Asia, dengue fever is the most common infectious disease, affecting 50-160 per 1000 travelers. Further potentially dangerous diseases include chikungunya and zika fever, typhoid and paratyphoid fever, amoebic liver abscess, visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar), leptospirosis, and, very rarely, imported cases of viral hemorrhagic fever. COVID-19 and influenza are important differential diagnoses. The differential diagnosis can be narrowed by thorough history-taking with particular attention to the patient's travel route, combined with a good knowledge of the geographic spread and incubation times of the main tropical diseases. Algorithms help clinicians to focus the diagnostic work-up and select the appropriate further laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures.
Dtsch Arztebl Int (Deutsches Arzteblatt international)
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