(HealthDay News) — Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) experience more travel-related illness when visiting industrialized, but not developing, countries than healthy individuals, according to research published in the February issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

To assess the rate of illness while traveling for patients with IBD, Shomron Ben-Horin, M.D., of Tel-Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues conducted a retrospective case-controlled study involving 222 patients with IBD and 224 matched controls during 1,099 trips abroad.

The researchers identified 142 episodes of illness during the trips, 92% of which involved an enteric disease. For IBD patients, the overall rate of illness while traveling was 15.1%, compared with 10.9% for healthy control patients (odds ratio [OR], 1.44; P=0.04). This was mainly attributed to increased illness among IBD patients traveling to industrialized countries. The rate of illness for travelers to developing countries was similar between the groups, at 17% and 21% for IBD and control patients, respectively (P=0.24). IBD patients who experienced frequent flares (OR, 1.9) or were hospitalized for IBD-related symptoms (OR, 3.5) were more likely to experience illness while traveling, while those who had been in remission for three months or more prior to traveling were at lower risk (OR, 0.3).

“IBD travelers have an increased risk of illness during trips abroad. However, most of this increased risk manifests during trips to developed rather than to developing countries, suggesting that most illness results from flares of IBD and not from contraction of enteric infections,” the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed a financial tie to the pharmaceutical industry.

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