Travelling With ChildrenJuly 3rd, 2012
Some recent studies have documented the likelihood of illness in children travellers. They reported roughly one in 3 children who travel abroad, will acquire a travel-related illness. Diarrhoea, feverish illness, skin conditions, and respiratory problems were the most common. Infected insect bites and sunburn also rated a special mention.
Risk varied by age groups and destinations (greatest for African destinations). Young children visiting friends and relatives in Africa or Asia were at greatest risk; they visit places less frequently visited by tourists, and so are exposed to more of the local diseases.
In the U.K., imported diseases account for 2% of pediatric hospitalizations. In one group of child travellers with fever; 59% had specific diagnoses, mainly malaria, glandular fever (highest in age group 15-19 years), and dengue fever. There were also cases of typhoid and paratyphoid ( from Asia); meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis, visceral leishmaniasis, and hepatitis A.
One study also highlighted high rates of fatigue, itching, nausea, and sunburn while children were abroad; symptoms of which were not common in adults. Interestingly, one study found children received four times more insect bites than their in parents.
Adolescents (aged 15-19 years) behaved more independently, undertook more adventure travel and backpacking, and were more likely to acquire glandular fever, sexually transmitted diseases, and suffer trauma.