Impact of doxycycline as malaria prophylaxis on risk of influenza-like illness among international travelers

for the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program TravMil Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Travelers are often at risk for both influenza-like illness (ILI) and malaria. Doxycycline is active against pathogens causing ILI and is used for malaria prophylaxis. We evaluated the risk factors for ILI, and whether the choice of malaria prophylaxis was associated with ILI. TravMil is a prospective observational study enrolling subjects presenting to military travel clinics. Influenza-like illness was defined as subjective fever with either a sore throat or cough. Characteristics of trip and use of malaria prophylaxis were analyzed to determine association with development of ILI. Poisson regression models with robust error variance were used to estimate relative risk (RR) of ILI. A total of 3,227 trips were enrolled: 62.1% male, median age of 39 years (interquartile range [IQR] 27,59), median travel duration 19 days (IQR 12, 49); 32% traveled to Africa, 40% to Asia, and 27% to the Caribbean and Latin America. Military travel (46%) and vacation (40%) were most common reasons for travel. Among them, 20% took doxycycline, 50% other prophylaxis, and 30% took none; 8.7% developed ILI. Decreased RR of ILI was associated with doxycycline (RR 0.65 [0.43–0.99], P = 0.046) and military travel (RR 0.30 [0.21–0.43], P < 0.01). Increased risk of ILI was associated with female gender (RR 1.57 [1.24–1.98], P < 0.01), travel to Asia (RR 1.37 [1.08–1.75], P = 0.01), and cruises (RR 2.21 [1.73–2.83], P < 0.01). Use of doxycycline malaria prophylaxis is associated with a decreased risk of ILI. Possible reasons include anti-inflammatory or antimicrobial effects, or other unmeasured factors. With few strategies for decreasing ILI in travelers, these findings bear further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-826
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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