Thursday, 19 June 2014

Study finds that international students are at higher risk of developing infectious diseases

According to a new study co-authored by SPHPM's Katherine Gibney, international students in Australia are at a higher risk of developing certain infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, than locally born students.

The number of international students at public and private tertiary institutions in Victoria, Australia, has doubled in the last decade. In 2011, more than 162,000 international students were enrolled in Victoria; 44% in the higher education sector and 34% in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. International students in Victoria originate from over 140 different countries, but almost half come from either China or India.

The reasons for increased risk of illness, include lower recognition of potential hazards associated with travel, as well as higher exposure risks. International students often travel home to visit family and friends, and may lack immunity to certain infectious diseases endemic in their home country due to waning immunity (e.g., malaria) and missed childhood vaccinations (e.g., measles).

Promotion from the study
 for educating international students about
travel health and disease management
International students who go home to visit family are also often at higher risk of exposure to infections as they are more likely to live like local residents during their trip compared with conventional tourists. Some of these travel-related infections may be potentially preventable through appropriate education, vaccination and chemoprophylaxis, however a recent study reported that international students in Australia are less likely than Australian-born students to consult a doctor for pre-travel advice or to receive vaccines or preventive medications prior to travelling to their country of origin. 

As many international students return to their home countries during semester and end-of-year breaks, the study was able to recognise both the high risk students and the high risk timing of travel. The study found that with the help of educational institutions where international students are studying, they were able to encourage individuals to seek medical care and advice before going overseas. 

Click here to read the full study. 

1 comment:

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