Salmonella is one of the most common foodborne pathogens in the United States, causing an estimated 1.2 million infections per year. It also is a notable cause of illness for people who have traveled internationally in the week before they became ill.

A new study, published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, takes a closer look at travel-related Salmonella infections.

The authors examined cases of Salmonella infection reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) from 2004 to 2008.

They found that among 23,712 case-patients who were known to have traveled recently, 11 percent  (2,659) had been outside the U.S. in the 7 days before they became ill. Travelers with Salmonella infection tended to be older — the median age was 30 — than non-travelers, whose median age was 24.

The most common destinations reported for travel-related Salmonella infections were Mexico (38 percent), India (9 percent), Jamaica (7 percent), the Dominican Republic (4 percent), China (3 percent), and the Bahamas (2 percent). Trips to Africa were associated with the highest rate of hospitalized case-patients — 33 percent — while travel to Asia was linked to the highest rate of invasive disease, also 33 percent. 

The most commonly reported Salmonella serotype associated with travel was Enteritidis (22 percent of cases). That was followed by Typhimurium (6 percent), Newport (5 percent), and Javiana (4 percent).

The authors concluded that medical professionals should appropriately consider the possibility of Salmonella infection when evaluating patients who have recently traveled internationally, especially those who visited Africa, Asia, or Latin America.