Geo Sentinel and other networks

Travel and tropical medicine clinics are in a position to detect disease outbreaks that may be heralded by returning travelers. Surveillance networks of travel and tropical medicine clinics have been established to systematically collect data on travel-associated diseases and be on the alert for disease outbreaks or changes in patterns of infections. GeoSentinel is such a network, established in 1995 through collaborative agreement between the International Society of Travel Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Freedman et al., 1999). TropNetEurop is another network that primarily has sites in Europe. The GeoSentinel network now has 31 sites located in six continents. Studies published by members of the GeoSentinel network are also contributing to the database that will allow clinicians to make recommendations based on evidence.

GeoSentinel analysis of morbidity in travelers can provide guidance on identifying common illnesses in travelers and risk of travel to health (Freedman etal., 2006). Moreover, GeoSentinel has disseminated alerts regarding a number of diagnoses in returning travelers - leptospirosis in participants returning from Eco-Challenge in Borneo, Malaysia; SARS in travelers returning to Canada from Asia; and malaria in travelers to resorts in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Subsequent to these notifications, clinicians identified additional cases in travelers, and public health responses were initiated.

ProMED, a program of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, has also accelerated the dissemination of outbreak reports through the use of the Internet. Networks such as GeoSentinel and ProMED have enabled rapid information-sharing between public health authorities and clinicians.

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