UT Southwestern Medical Center

Travel history should become routine in medical assessments to slow pandemics’ spread

Newswise — DALLAS – March 4, 2020 – Integrating travel history information into routine medical assessments could help stem the rapidly widening COVID-19 epidemic, as well as future pandemics, infectious disease specialists recommend in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Trish Perl

Dr. Trish Perl

Trish Perl, M.D., M.Sc., Chief of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and Connie Savor Price, M.D., of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, say it’s time to add travel history to routine information such as temperature and blood pressure collected in electronic medical records.

“We have the infrastructure to do this easily with the electronic medical record, we just need to implement it in a way to make it useful to the care teams,” says Perl, who studies outbreaks and pandemics. “Once the infrastructure is built, we’ll also need to communicate what is called ‘situational awareness’ to ensure that providers know what geographic areas have infections so that they can act accordingly.”

A simple, targeted travel history can help put infectious symptoms in context for physicians and caregiver teams, and, if deemed appropriate, trigger more detailed history, further testing, and rapid implementation of protective measures for others in affected households, co-workers or other daily contacts, and health care personnel. Shared electronic health records also can integrate travel history with computerized decision-making support to suggest specific diagnoses in recent travelers, the authors note, in much the same way as trained medical teams routinely ask about tobacco exposure to ascertain levels of cancer and heart disease risk.

The emergence of novel respiratory diseases in the past two decades – including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012-2013, Western Africa-based Ebola in 2014, and now COVID-19 from China – demonstrate the need for change. With each wave, “the urgent threat of communicable diseases comes with significant morbidity and mortality, tremendous health care disruptions and resource utilization, and collateral economic and societal costs,” Perl and Price write.

“MERS and SARS were associated with very specific travel. MERS was associated with travel to the Arabian Peninsula, and SARS was associated with travel primarily to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Beijing,” Perl says. “Currently COVID is similar in that there are geographic clusters, but those lines may be blurring as the outbreak expands. The challenges and potential stress on the public health infrastructure, including the hospitals which are part of this, will be notable in that we could see large numbers of patients. Our role will not only be to care for these patients but to communicate to them the strategies that they can use to protect themselves.”

The Annals commentary suggests that a simple script could be strategically and carefully developed to elicit clues for emerging infectious diseases and information about current emerging pathogen threats. The information could be collected along with the four gold standard vital signs – temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure – currently used to help U.S.-based medical teams assess patients’ health status, triage to appropriate care, determine potential diagnoses, and predict recovery.

The current outbreak is an opportune time to consider adding travel history to the routine. The COVID outbreak is clearly moving at a tremendous pace, with new clusters appearing daily,” says Perl, who holds the Jay P. Sanford Professorship in Infectious Diseases at UTSW. “This pace is a signal to us that it is a matter of time before we will see more of these infections in the U.S. What is different with this outbreak is that this virus is more fit and transmissible and hence there has been much more transmission.”

The article appears in the March 3 Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors reported no funding support or conflicts of interest.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The full-time faculty of more than 2,500 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 3 million outpatient visits a year.




Filters close

Showing results

110 of 4148
access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 1-Dec-2020 11:00 AM EST Released to reporters: 30-Nov-2020 8:40 AM EST

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 1-Dec-2020 11:00 AM EST The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Newswise: COVID-19 Peer Hub combats vaccine avoidance amid pandemic
Released: 27-Nov-2020 8:05 AM EST
COVID-19 Peer Hub combats vaccine avoidance amid pandemic
University of South Australia

UniSA researchers are evaluating a new vaccination education initiative – the COVID-19 Peer Hub – to help immunisation and public health professionals to tackle the emerging dangers of vaccine hesitancy amid the pandemic.

Newswise: Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19: Your Mental Health
Released: 25-Nov-2020 2:15 PM EST
Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19: Your Mental Health
Cedars-Sinai

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaped more than half a year of our lives, canceling plans, upending livelihoods and causing feelings of grief, stress and anxiety. And Cedars-Sinai mental health experts say the pandemic could be shaping our mental health well into the future.

Released: 25-Nov-2020 12:45 PM EST
SARS-CoV-2 mutations do not appear to increase transmissibility
University College London

None of the mutations currently documented in the SARS-CoV-2 virus appear to increase its transmissibility in humans, according to a study led by UCL researchers.

Newswise: COVID-19 vaccine candidate tested preclinically at UAB nears first clinical test in people
Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
COVID-19 vaccine candidate tested preclinically at UAB nears first clinical test in people
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Maryland-based Altimmune Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, has submitted an Investigational New Drug, or IND, application to the United States Food and Drug Administration to commence a Phase 1 clinical study of its single-dose intranasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AdCOVID.

Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
BIDMC researchers reveal how genetic variations are linked to COVID-19 disease severity
Beth Israel Lahey Health

New research BIDMC-led sheds light on the genetic risk factors that make individuals more or less susceptible to severe COVID-19.

Newswise: blog-pandemic-scenario-planning-lg-feature2.jpg
Released: 25-Nov-2020 11:05 AM EST
Pandemic Ups Game on Scenario Planning in The Arts
Wallace Foundation

Researcher/Author of new toolkit and report seeks to help arts and culture organizations add scenario planning to their strategic toolbox

Released: 25-Nov-2020 10:30 AM EST
Young people's anxiety levels doubled during first COVID-19 lockdown, says study
University of Bristol

The number of young people with anxiety doubled from 13 per cent to 24 per cent, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown 1, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Newswise: 249837_web.jpg
Released: 25-Nov-2020 10:20 AM EST
Tracking COVID-19 trends in hard-hit states
Louisiana State University

Currently, there are over 10 million confirmed cases and more than 240,000 casualties attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S.

Released: 25-Nov-2020 9:55 AM EST
More Health Systems Join National #MaskUp Campaign
Cleveland Clinic

Many more health systems are joining the national #MaskUp campaign encouraging Americans to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following safety guidelines. Over just a few days, another 19 health systems with hundreds of hospitals united with 100 health systems nationwide with hospitals numbering in the thousands. The public service campaign is critical to the health and well-being of all Americans. It is a plea from healthcare professionals everywhere: wear a mask and follow other precautions to save lives and help get our country back on its feet.


Showing results

110 of 4148

close
1.89154