BACKGROUNDWe measured frequency and epidemiologic, clinical, and hematochemical variables associated with respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in foreign-born and national patients hospitalized with fever with a history of international travel, and compared the final diagnosis of RTI with the presence of a respiratory syndrome (RS) at presentation.METHODSA prospective, multicenter, observational study was conducted at tertiary care hospitals in Northern Italy from September 1998 to December 2000.RESULTSA final diagnosis of RTI was obtained in 40 cases (7.8%), 27 (67.5%) with lower RTI and 13 (32.5%) with upper RTI. The most common RTIs were pneumonia (35%) and pulmonary tuberculosis (15%). A white blood cell count > or = 10,000 and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate > or = 20 mm/h were independently associated with a final diagnosis of RTI; onset of symptoms at > or = 16 days and > or = 75% neutrophils were independently associated with lower RTI. An RS was identified in 51 (9.9%) of 515 travelers. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values of a diagnosis of RS for a final diagnosis of RTI were 67.5%, 94.9%, 52.9%, and 97.2%, respectively.CONCLUSIONSPneumonia and pulmonary tuberculosis were frequent among foreign-born and national travelers with fever admitted to a tertiary care hospital. Half of the pneumonia cases did not present with an RS at first clinical examination.
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