Travel to the tropics is associated with a risk of parasitic infection, which is increasing in parallel with the rise in travel to these areas. We thus examined the prevalence and trend in the occurrence of parasitic infections in Serbian travelers.
A retrospective analysis of the medical records of all travelers returning from tropical and subtropical areas, who presented at the Institute for Infectious and Tropical Diseases in Belgrade between January 2001 and January 2008, was performed.
Of a total of 2440 travelers, 169 (6.9%) were diagnosed with a parasitic infection, including malaria in 79, intestinal parasites in 84 (pathogenic species in 30 and non-pathogenic in 54), filariasis in four, and visceral leishmaniasis and fascioliasis in one patient each. Importantly, of the whole series only 583 (23.9%) were symptomatic, of which 19.4% were found to be infected with a parasite. The single pathogenic parasite occurring in asymptomatic patients was Giardia intestinalis.
Parasitic infection causing symptomatic disease among travelers returning from tropical areas to Serbia is not infrequent. In view of the expected increase in travel to the tropics, diagnostic protocols for tropical parasitic diseases should take these data into account.