Elevated Values of C-Reactive Protein Induced by Imported Infectious Diseases: A Controlled Cross-Sectional Study of 11,079 Diseased German Travelers Returning from the Tropics and Subtropics


Herbinger KH, Hanus I, Schunk M, Beissner M, von Sonnenburg F, Loscher T, Bretzel G, Hoelscher M, Nothdurft HD, Huber KL


The present controlled cross-sectional study aimed to assess elevated values of C-reactive protein (CRP), a positive acute-phase protein, induced by imported infectious diseases (IDs) seen in patients consulting the University of Munich (1999-2015) after being in the tropics/subtropics. The analysis investigated data sets from 11,079 diseased German travelers (cases) returning from Latin America (1,986), Africa (3,387), and Asia (5,706), and from 714 healthy Germans who had not recently traveled (controls). The proportions of elevated values of CRP (> 0.5 mg/dL) were significantly larger among cases (44.3%) than among controls (20.7%). Among cases, this proportion was largest among males (49.2%) in comparison to females (39.9%), among travelers with short travel duration of 1-14 days (49.6%) in comparison to travelers with a travel duration of > 180 days [30.8%]), and with travel destination in Africa (47.0%), Asia (44.2%), and Latin America (39.9%), among all-inclusive travelers (47.4%) in comparison to business travelers (46.7%) and backpackers (44.1%), and among patients presenting with fever (70.9%) and arthralgia (54.3%). The study identified various imported IDs with significantly larger proportions of elevated values of CRP including viral (cytomegalovirus infection [94.7%], influenza [88.9%], infectious mononucleosis [71.8%]), bacterial (typhoid fever [100%], paratyphoid fever [92.9%], shigellosis [76.8%], rickettsiosis [74.2%], Salmonella enteritis [71.3%], Campylobacter infection [68.7%]), and protozoan (vivax malaria [100%], ovale malaria [100%], falciparum malaria [95.4%], and noninvasive Entamoeba infection [65.9%]) IDs. This study demonstrates that elevated values of CRP can be a useful laboratory finding for travelers returning from the tropics/subtropics, as these findings are typically caused mainly by certain imported bacterial IDs, but also by viral and protozoan IDs.

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