Background: Limited prospective data are available on the acquisition of viral, bacterial and parasitic diarrhoeagenic agents by healthy individuals during travel. Methods: To determine the frequency of travel associated acquisition of 19 pathogens in 98 intercontinental travellers, qPCR was used to detect 8 viral pathogens, 6 bacterial enteric pathogens and 5 parasite species in faecal samples collected immediately before and after travel. Results: We found high pre-travel carriage rates of Blastocystis spp. and Dientamoeba fragilis of 32% and 19% respectively. Pre-travel prevalences of all other tested pathogens were below 3%. Blastocystis spp. (10%), Plesiomonas shigelloides (7%), D. fragilis (6%) and Shigella spp. (5%) were the most frequently acquired pathogens and acquisition of enteral viruses and hepatitis E virus in this relatively small group of travellers was rare or non-existent. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the role of viruses as the cause of persisting traveller's diarrhoea is limited and bacterial pathogens are more likely as a cause of traveller's diarrhoea. The substantial proportion of travellers carrying Blastocystis spp. and D. fragilis before travel warrants cautious interpretation of positive samples in returning travellers with gastrointestinal complaints.

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Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease
Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

van Hattem, J., Arcilla, M., Grobusch, M. P., Bart, A., Bootsma, M., van Genderen, P., … de Jong, M. (2017). Travel-related acquisition of diarrhoeagenic bacteria, enteral viruses and parasites in a prospective cohort of 98 Dutch travellers. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, 2017, 1–4. doi:10.1016/j.tmaid.2017.08.003