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By Dr Eddy Bajrovic, Medical Director of Travelvax Australia

“I’m travelling overseas. Should I be worried about Ebola?”
It’s a question Travelvax Australia’s travel health specialists have been asked repeatedly in recent weeks. And, not just by people heading to West Africa where the deadly disease has infected 1848 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and most recently in Nigeria, killing 1013 of them, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures.
Yes, that’s despite the WHO declaration last week that the eight-month long outbreak now constitutes a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ and America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising against non-essential travel.
How can that be given that outbreaks are spreading to new regions of West Africa?
Because, the reality is that it’s actually quite difficult to become infected with Ebola.
EBOLA CAN ONLY BE PASSED ON through direct contact (generally through broken skin or mucous membranes in the nose) with bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, faeces, or semen of an infected person (or animal) already very sick with its very obvious symptoms, or by handling their infected bodies after death. Touching objects contaminated with infected body fluids is another form of transmission.
EBOLA CANNOT BE PASSED ON from casual contact with someone who has been exposed to the disease but isn’t sick yet. Despite what you may hear, you cannot catch Ebola by breathing it in, from handling everyday items, drinking local tap water, swimming in a pool, or bites from mosquitoes or other insects.
The risk of contracting Ebola is much lower than for any of the more common diseases that you might encounter during travel. Indeed, respiratory diseases and gastro infections are far more likely because they are far more contagious.

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Off to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup in June? Heading to Africa in coming months?

Don’t leave it too late to get the required yellow fever vaccination, says Travelvax Australia.
The reason we suggest you be immunised sooner rather than later is because manufacturing problems have meant the vaccine is in short supply in much of the world.
As a result, the vaccine’s manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur has placed limits on the number of doses travel medicine clinics and other licensed providers in North America and Europe can obtain.
Travellers in Canada, the USA, and the UK planning to visit sub-Saharan Africa or South America in the current northern winter and autumn have been warned of the shortage and advised to have the vaccine soon in case supplies become even tighter. 

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Criminals have taken the manufacture of counterfeit drugs to lethal new levels by creating a fake human rabies vaccine that is being sold in the Philippines.

The vaccine is a convincing ‘knock-off’ of an Indian-made rabies vaccine, Rabipur, which is sold widely across Asia and has a reputation for reliable quality in protecting people from the deadly virus.
The fake vaccine was detected at Tabuk City, the capital of Kalinga Province on Luzon Island, according to a public warning issued by the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Authorities are trying to determine where it originated.
It is unclear how long the fake vaccine has been available, but vials are being sold in the city’s vaccination clinics and drug stores, as well as online, the FDA said in a statement.
While canine rabies control programs and increased public awareness in some parts of the country have reduced the incidence of the disease, the Philippines remains a hot spot for rabies in Asia. 

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