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n International SportMed Journal - Tropical infections in athletes : malaria, schistosomiasis and African tick bite fever : review article
Objective : This article reviews three common tropical infections, namely malaria, schistosomiasis and African tick bite fever, in order to highlight the risks posed to athletes travelling to endemic areas in Africa and provide physicians with an update on these diseases.
Data sources : A review of journal articles and abstracts, bulletins and publications by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Canadian Communicable Disease report, and the South African Department of Health, which were written between 1983-2003, was conducted. Clinical and biological data was reviewed in the Oxford Textbook of Medicine and Essential Malariology.
Study section and data extraction : 46 journal articles/abstracts and public health bulletins were reviewed, selected on their relevant contribution to data on clinical case reports, epidemiology, clinical disease features, diagnostic tests, preventive strategies and management protocols.
Data synthesis : This review found published case reports of and statistical data on malaria in travellers to tropical Africa, the biggest risk being that of P. falciparum infection. Similarly, there are published case reports of schistosomiasis and African tick bite fever in athletes and other groups travelling to endemic areas of Africa. From a review of recent journal publications, public health bulletins and relevant texts an updated presentation of the epidemiology and clinical features for each tropical infection and guidelines on management, prevention and prophylaxis is produced.
Conclusions : Malaria, Schistosomiasis and African tick bite fever are common tropical infections that pose a potential risk to athletes travelling, training or competing in tropical endemic areas of Africa. Practical guidelines for prevention / prophylaxis play a significant role in reducing the risks of infection for each of these tropical diseases. Physicians need to consider malaria especially P. falciparum, and African tick bite fever in febrile patients returning from Africa. Athletes who have contact with fresh water in endemic areas of Africa should be examined and tested for schistosomiasis.
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