Health Alerts
  • India: Monsoon season = JE, dengue, malaria

    The case count and death toll from Japanese encephalitis infections is climbing in the states of Assam, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh. Read more. Government dengue data released this week to the Council of States shows there have been over 20,600 cases and 22 associated deaths across the country. Worst affected states are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Read more. Delhi’s dengue (& other mosquito-borne diseases) season officially gets underway around now, however the city has already had as many as 200 malaria cases and 150-183 of dengue and chikungunya. Read more. And the state of Chhattisgarh has topped Odisha in the number of malaria cases reported for the year up to July - 56,022 cases (Odisha 51,023). Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Malaria is widespread in India and occurs year-round in both rural and urban areas, including major cities. Travellers visiting India should discuss their itinerary and the possible need for anti-malaria medication during a pre-travel medical consultation. Read more on malaria in India. 

    Kenya: Nairobi’s cholera woes

    Strict personal hygiene measures are being called for in Nairobi County as the city deals with an outbreak of cholera that has so far caused the deaths of 4 people from over 300 suspected cases. According to a ReliefWeb post, there are concerns within the Health Ministry that the rising number of ‘food borne diarrheal, poisoning and cholera in different towns and cities in the country’ is ‘often related to public functions and outsourcing of food.’ Yesterday, the Health Minister called for a Nairobi hotel and restaurant to be closed indefinitely. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Cholera is usually spread in contaminated water. For most short-stay travellers, the risk of infection is low. Australians travelling to regions where a cholera outbreak is occurring should adhere to strict personal hygiene guidelines and choose food and beverages with care. Read more about cholera

    Malaysia: More areas declared rabies-affected, one more case

    One new human rabies cases has been reported in Sarawak this week – a 52yo man from Serian – and the number of districts identified as rabies-affected has increased by three to include Siburan town, Tebedu (Kampung Temong Mura) and Sri Aman (Rumah Janta Punggu Mawang). The 4 previous rabies victims (all children) have died from the infection. Domestic animals have been targeted in a vaccination campaign. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Rabies is present in most countries and all travellers should be aware of the importance of avoiding contact with wild and domestic animals – especially dogs, the main source of infection. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. Vaccination is normally recommended for those staying for more than a month, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies.

    Martinique: Pink eye hits islands

    The popular Caribbean island destinations of Martinique and Guadeloupe are experiencing a spike in the incidence of viral conjunctivitis, or pink eye. According to the West Indies and Caribbean News site, the highly transmissible infection has struck other islands within the region over the past few months, including St Lucia and Dominica. Read more. More on conjunctivitis from the US CDC here

    Morocco: Sting in the tail for rural kids

    ProMED reports on 15 children from rural towns in and around Settat, a city situated between Rabat and Marrakech, who were stung by scorpions over a recent 2-day period – 3 of the children required treatment in an intensive care unit. The summer months are the peak time for the arthropods’ activity, with up to 2,500 reports of stings each year country-wide. Read more on scorpions.  

    Pakistan: Resistant typhoid strikes 2 cities

    H58, a multi-drug resistant (MDR) strain of typhoid, is cutting a swathe through the children of Hyderabad and Karachi. An assistant professor in paediatrics at a major Karachi hospital considers the current outbreak of MDR typhoid the largest seen in the 2 cities. Contaminated water supplies and sewage infrastructure failures are being blamed for the outbreak. Read more. More on MDR typhoid

    Advice for travellers: Typhoid is endemic in many developing regions, although it generally presents a low risk for short-stay travellers staying in western-style accommodation. Vaccination against typhoid fever is itinerary specific, but is generally recommended for those staying or travelling extensively in rural areas, as well as for adventurous eaters. All travellers visiting endemic areas should follow safe food and water guidelines, and adopt strict personal hygiene practices.

    Romania: Vax campaign to end measles

    The Ministry of Health will be taking an active role in the rolling out of a measles vaccination campaign, managing who will be vaccinated and where. These measures are needed to curb the ongoing outbreak that has so far caused over 8,000 cases and resulted in 31 deaths since January last year. Read more. The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) this week issued a further warning for travellers to Europe to ensure their measles vaccinations were up to date or had a confirmed history of measles infection. 

    Advice for travellers: Measles occurs in developing and developed countries and unvaccinated travellers are at particular risk, both in transit and during their stay. While generally benign, infection can result in severe illness or death. Travelvax Australia recommends travellers check their immunisation status for measles and other childhood diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and mumps at least 6 weeks before departure. Read more about measles.

    Saudi Arabia: Concerns for water-borne disease during Hajj

    The World Health Organization believes that preparations are in order ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, but warn that there remains a risk that the cholera epidemics in Yemen and several East African countries could spread during the massive religious gathering. Read more.

    Sri Lanka: Hope for respite from dengue

    Dengue fever reports hit a high of 22,692 in the month of June but are believed finally to be on the decline. Colombo and the city of Gampaha (approx. 30kms NE of the capital) have fared the worst, scoring nearly 35,000 cases between them since the beginning of the year according to official government data. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Dengue is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes. Both breed close to dwellings, are found in shady areas and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid outdoors. Travellers should cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. Apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    Taiwan: Flu persists; JE cases hit 17

    Seasonal influenza notifications are still at their peak, despite a slight reduction in the number of cases presenting at hospitals with severe symptoms over the past couple of weeks. Read more. Also in the region, in Hong Kong authorities have announced that flu activity is now at ‘a very high level’ and they anticipate it ‘remaining at a high level in the coming weeks.’ Read more 
    Meanwhile, the CDC has announced 2 more Japanese encephalitis cases (Nantou County and Hualien County), taking the yearly figures to 17: ‘3 cases in Kaohsiung City, 3 cases in Changhua County, 2 cases in Pingtung County, 2 cases in Taoyuan City, 2 cases in Chiayi County, 1 case in Tainan City, 1 case in New Taipei City, 1 case in Nantou County, and 1 case in Hualien County.’ Read the CDC press release here

    Advice for travellers: On average, 24 cases are recorded each year in Taiwan, mainly in the south from May to October, but peaking in June and July. Cases typically occur in rural, rice-growing areas where people live near the host animals, pigs and wading birds. While it is a low risk for most travellers staying in urban areas, expats and travellers spending extended periods in agricultural areas of Asia should consult their travel doctor about recommendations for vaccination. Read more about JE.

    Thailand: Dengue spike; Flu cases top 40,000

    Bangkok and Chiang Mai have been named this week as having above average rates of dengue fever, while the country as a whole is in the grips of a 20-year high in cases. The year’s total has hit 136,000 cases, with 126 associated deaths. Read more.
    INFLUENZA case numbers to date this year have reached 40,000 including 4 related deaths. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Seasonal flu is the most common vaccine-preventable travel-related illness: it’s likely to be found aboard aircraft, in crowded airport terminals, and at your destination. Travelvax recommends vaccination for anyone over 6 months heading overseas into the northern winter in coming months. Travellers should also avoid close contact with people showing flu-like symptoms, and thoroughly washing hands using soap and water after using the toilet and before eating. Alcohol wipes are a convenient alternative if soap and water is not available.

  • Bangladesh: Viral illness strikes Dhaka

    It’s a big outbreak rather than an epidemic, according to a government health official, but either way chikungunya has hit the capital Dhaka. In a separate article, the figure of 2,700 cases since May is quoted, with more than 100 calls a day being made to an infoline that the Health Ministry has set us to respond to chikungunya-related questions from city residents. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Chikungunya virus is spread by the same daytime-feeding mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever. There is no vaccine and preventing infection relies on avoiding mosquito bites. Apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about chikungunyaa and avoiding insect bites.

    Bhutan: Dengue monitored near border

    Dengue fever infections have been recorded in the district of Samtse, a lowland area adjacent to the Indian border. In the past 3 weeks, 21 cases have been identified and local authorities are taking measures to eradicate breeding sites of mosquitoes and also raise public awareness. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Dengue is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes. Both breed close to dwellings, are found in shady areas and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid outdoors. Travellers should cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. Apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    Burundi: Malaria crisis escalates

    Ten provinces situated in the country’s north, centre and east have borne the brunt of the ongoing malaria epidemic. According to a ReliefWeb bulletin, for the year up to June 25, 2017, ‘4,376,804 cases including 1,996 deaths have been reported.’ The ten severely affected provinces are Karusi, Gitega, Muyinga, Kirundo, Kayanza, Ngozi, Bubanza, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, and Ruyigi. 

    Advice for travellers: For most travellers, Africa presents a significant malaria risk. Travellers can discuss their itinerary and the need for anti-malaria medication with a trained travel health professional at their nearest Travelvax clinic. For details call 1300 360 164. Read more about malaria

    Caribbean, Latin America: Sporadic Zika reports

    Details from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have been published on recently recorded spikes in Zika virus infections from areas of Belize, the Turks and Caicos, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. Read the report here

    Advice for travellers: Zika’s symptoms include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis lasting 4-7 days. Long-term ill-effects are rare, although the joint pain may linger for weeks, even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants – even in upmarket hotels and resorts. Transmission of Zika virus has also occurred during pregnancy, breastfeeding, sexually and also through blood or blood products. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the main feeding time for Aedes mosquitoes. All travellers, but particularly pregnant women or those planning pregnancy, should seek medical advice before travel to Zika-affected areas. Read information on smartraveller (DFAT).

    Europe: Measles vigilance continues

    European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) data on the ongoing measles outbreak affecting the region outlines the mounting death toll – 35 (31 in Romania, 2 in Italy, and one each in Germany & Portugal). In the 18 months from January 2016, a staggering 14,000 measles cases have been recorded. The ECDC figures indicate that one quarter of infections where the vaccination status was unknown were in adults aged 25 and above. The level of fully immunised individuals (i.e. received 2 vaccine doses) in the population must be at least 95 percent in order to interrupt the transmission of this highly contagious virus. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Measles occurs in developing and developed countries and unvaccinated travellers are at particular risk, both in transit and during their stay. While generally benign, infection can result in severe illness or death. Travelvax Australia recommends travellers check their immunisation status for measles and other childhood diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and mumps at least 6 weeks before departure. Read more about measles.

    India: Mozzie-borne disease reports flood in

    With the monsoon season underway, dengue and other mosquito-borne disease reports are filtering in from around the country: Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Bihar. Earlier this year, the government released the findings of confirmed Zika virus infections in 3 residents of Gujarat state and this week the news that a 27-year old man from the district of Krishnagiri, SW of Tamil Nadu’s capital of Bengaluru, has tested positive to Zika virus – the first for the state. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: A mosquito-borne virus, JE is usually found in many part of Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China, although cases also occur in Indonesia and PNG. It is mainly found in rural areas around rice paddies where pigs, wading birds and humans live closely together, however it can occur in or near cities. The risk to short-stay travellers and those who confine their travel to urban centres is very low. The recommendations for vaccination are itinerary-specific. Read more on JE.

    Cote D'ivoire: Capital's dengue spike

    Three of Abidjan’s communes (suburbs) have been hit with dengue fever outbreaks. One, Cocody, is an upmarket area that houses many foreign embassies; the other affected areas are Abobo and Marcory. Read more.

    Japan: Tickborne virus emerges in Hokkaido

    An elderly man from the northern island of Hokkaido has died from tickborne encephalitis (TBE); he became ill last month and succumbed to the viral disease this week. Japan has now recorded 2 deaths, from 3 known cases of TBE. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: A viral infection, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) can cause fever, vomiting, cramps and paralysis, which can be prolonged. In rare instances, infection can be fatal. Travellers who spend time in regions where TBE is endemic – mainly forested areas of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Northern China, and Mongolia – may be at risk. The highest risk is during the warmer months from April to November, especially when hiking or camping in areas below 1500m. VACCINE: While safe and effective vaccines are available in Europe, none are licensed in Australia. However, vaccination can be obtained from Travelvax clinics through a Special Access Scheme.

    Malaysia: Perak’s park risks; Another rabies case in Serian

    A potential source of dengue fever infections has been identified in the capital of Perak state, Ipoh, and it’s where many city residents would go to relax or play – public parks. Breeding sites of dengue mosquitoes, the Aedes aegypti species specifically, have been found in the public areas. Dengue fever numbers have risen considerably in the first 6 months of this year compared to the same period in 2016 - 3,598 against 1,945. Read more.
    A FURTHER rabies case has been reported in Serian Division, Sarawak, taking the total to 4 – all are children 7yo or under. Two of the children have died and the others remain in intensive care in a critical condition. The affected district lies about 75km south of Kuching, the state capital. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Rabies is present in most countries and all travellers should be aware of the importance of avoiding contact with wild and domestic animals – especially dogs, the main source of infection. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. Vaccination is normally recommended for those staying for more than a month, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies.

    Mayotte (French): Typhoid hotspots named

    Two northern towns are at the centre of a typhoid outbreak that has produced nearly a year’s average in 6 months. Typhoid fever is endemic in the French Overseas Region; local health authorities have asked the population to employ strict personal hygiene measures and avoid raw/unwashed foods. Read more (translate from French).

    Advice for travellers: Typhoid is endemic in many developing regions, although it generally presents a low risk for short-stay travellers staying in western-style accommodation. Vaccination is itinerary specific, but is generally recommended for those staying or travelling extensively in rural areas, as well as for adventurous eaters. All travellers visiting endemic areas should follow safe food and water guidelines, and adopt strict personal hygiene practices. Read more about typhoid fever.

    Myanmar: Delta region dengue

    Severe complications of dengue fever have led to the deaths of 19 people this year in the delta region of the Ayeyarwady River. The deaths were recorded among the nearly 1,700 cases with haemorrhagic symptoms of dengue, often a result of a second or more bout of the mosquito-borne viral illness. A rise in the incidence of severe symptoms occurs every 2-3 years. Read more.

    New Zealand: Auckland mumps tops 150 cases

    Over half of the 152 mumps cases recorded in Auckland up to July 12th have come from the city’s western suburbs and males make up the majority. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service is urging residents to ensure they are fully immunised with the free vaccine. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: This outbreak of mumps highlights the importance of current immunisation against contagious childhood diseases, such as whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria, rubella and measles for travel to any destination – be it a developed or developing country. Read more about mumps.

    South America: Yellow fever update; Flu on the rise

    Recent cases of yellow fever have been reported by the PAHO from Ecuador (Sucumbíos province), Peru (Junín department) and Bolivia (Cochabamba Department), while in Brazil, the most recently diagnosed case was in May in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Vigilance is being maintained in all areas which have reported cases due to the presence of the virus in non-human primates. This year over 26 million doses of the yellow fever vaccine have been administered in 5 states: Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. Read more.
    THE WHO global influenza update released this week reveals rising levels of flu activity - ‘In the temperate zone of the Southern Hemisphere, influenza activity increased in most countries in recent weeks.’ Infections are increasing in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, while in Australia and New Zealand activity is average for this stage of the flu season. For a full round-up of the global situation, including Asia and Africa, see the report here

    Advice for travellers: Yellow fever virus is a mosquito-borne disease found in tropical and subtropical areas in Central/South America and Africa. While it can be severe, yellow fever infection is a very rare in Australian travellers. However, under the International Health Regulations (IHR), proof of vaccination may be required of any traveller entering or leaving an area at risk of yellow fever transmission. Read more about yellow fever

    United States of America: Mid-West Hep A uptick

    An outbreak of hepatitis A in the state of Michigan has now caused 10 deaths from 190 confirmed cases. The state capital Detroit, as well as the counties of Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and St. Clair have been affected according to a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services. While no definite source of infection has been discovered, ‘transmission does appear to be person-to-person through illicit drug use, sexual activity, and close contact among household members.’ Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Vaccine-preventable Hepatitis A (HAV) is one of the most common infections affecting travellers. It is a significant risk in most developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking, with an estimated 1.4 million cases occurring worldwide each year. The virus is transmitted by faecally contaminated food and water, or by handling everyday items, such as crafts, money, door-handles etc. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that’s 99%-plus effective and long lasting (20-30 years). It is also important to follow safe food and water guidelines.

    Vietnam: Dengue surge

    There is disagreement as to whether it’s the incidence of dengue fever that has risen, or the amount of testing to confirm the infection, but this year’s figures indicate a 5x increase over last year’s in Hanoi to reach a total of 3,200 cases. Countrywide, the first 6 months of the year saw 45,000 cases, including 19 deaths. Read more.

  • China: Fever spike hits HK kids: JE case in New Territories

    Children under 10 years of age make up most of the Hong Kong residents reported to have contracted scarlet fever this year. The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) announced this week that there have been 1,215 cases to date while advising parents to employ ‘strict personal, hand and environmental hygiene.’ Read more.
    A man aged in his late 30s from a public housing estate (Tin Shui Estate) in the New Territories has been diagnosed with Japanese encephalitis – investigations revealed he had not travelled in the incubation period. A health official stated that Guangdong and Macau authorities have been notified, as have local doctors and hospitals. Residents of the area have been given updates of the situation and offered health briefings. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Scarlet fever is a low risk for travellers. A mild bacterial infection, it generally causes strep throat or, less commonly, streptococcal skin infections. It affects people of any age, but is most common among children. The classic symptom is a sandpaper-like red rash. Scarlet fever is treatable with antibiotics which helps clear up symptoms faster, reduces spread to other people and prevents rare but serious long-term health problems. Read more on scarlet fever.

    France: Hep A source unknown

    Advice to residents in the central department of Indre includes the need to use strict personal hygiene measures and drink bottled water following an outbreak of hepatitis A in the commune of Le Magny. Six adults and 3 children are undergoing treatment, while the as-yet unknown source of the viral outbreak is investigated. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Hepatitis A (HAV) is a vaccine-preventable viral disease passed on to humans by faecally contaminated food and water, or by handling everyday items. It is a significant risk in travellers to developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that is 99%-plus effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    India: Monsoon-related diseases intensify

    The annual monsoons bring with them the increased risk of mosquito- and water-borne illnesses, and this year the early rains in the state of Kerala have caused a spike in dengue and malaria cases. Government agencies are instituting plans to tackle the diseases in those states already affected (including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and the capital of Haryana/Punjab, Chandigarh) and across the entire country. Read more. In the eastern state of Jharkhand, several cases of what is suspected to be Japanese encephalitis (JE) have been reported in the largest city, Jamshedpur. Read more. A cholera outbreak has been declared in the city of Dabhoi (Vadodara district of Gujarat state); measures to control the spread of the water-borne disease are being implemented. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: A mosquito-borne virus, JE is usually found in many part of Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China, although cases also occur in Indonesia and PNG. It is mainly found in rural areas around rice paddies where pigs, wading birds and humans live closely together, however it can occur in or near cities. The risk to short-stay travellers and those who confine their travel to urban centres is very low. The recommendations for vaccination are itinerary-specific. Read more on JE

    Malaysia: Rabies strikes in 2 districts

    Five Serian district villages in Borneo’s state of Sarawak have been declared rabies-affected following the deaths of 2 young children and the hospitalisation of a third in a critical condition this week. The incidence of dog bites in the area has risen sharply in the past few months. Read more. Elsewhere in Malaysia, there’s been an outbreak of rabies in the city of Putrajaya, south of Kuala Lumpur, with up to 68 people undergoing post-exposure vaccination. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Rabies is present in most countries and all travellers should be aware of the importance of avoiding contact with wild and domestic animals – especially dogs, the main source of infection. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. Vaccination is normally recommended for those staying for more than a month, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies.

    Myanmar: Two states hit by dengue

    Dengue outbreaks have hit the states of Mon (Ye township) and Kachin (Bhamo, Mansi, Mogaung, Mohnyin, Momauk, Hpakant, Tanai, Myitkyina & Waingmaw townships). Read more.

    New Caledonia: Death toll rises again

    As reported last week, there’s been a sharp reduction in the number of dengue fever cases now the cooler months have arrived; however this week the 11th dengue-related death since January was announced. In view of the 10 or so cases being reported daily, vigilance against mosquito bites must be maintained. Three dengue serotypes are circulating. Read more (translate from French).

    Advice for travellers: Dengue is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes. Both breed close to dwellings, are found in shady areas and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid outdoors. Travellers should cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. Apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    New Zealand: Teens, young adults in mumps uptick

    Each day in Auckland 5 new mumps cases are reported – mostly in the 10 to 29 years' age groups – adding to the total of 153 cases in the current ‘major outbreak’ (as of July 5th). Details from an Auckland Regional Public Health Service media release point out that: ‘Around 80 percent of the current cases were not fully vaccinated.’ Also: ‘Out of 126 locally acquired cases, 78 of these are Pacific Island people and 26 are Maori. The balance is Pakeha or other ethnicities.’ Read more.

    Advice for travellers: This outbreak of mumps highlights the importance of current immunisation against contagious childhood diseases, such as whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, diphtheria, rubella and measles for travel to any destination – be it a developed or developing country. Read more about mumps.

    Philippines: Central Luzon rabies vax campaign

    Bataan province’s chief veterinarian has called for all pet owners to vaccinate their animals against rabies following the recent deaths of 3 residents after they were bitten by rabid dogs. Read more.

    Saudi Arabia: Release of Hajj health requirements

    The Ministry of Health (MOH) has released its requirements and recommendations for pilgrims (& workers) to the Hajj which starts in late August. Among the vaccinations prescribed, the 4-in-1 meningococcal meningitis vaccine is required. It must be accompanied with a certificate of vaccination proving it was administered no less than 10 days before arrival and not more than 3 years (for polysaccharide vaccine) and 5 years (conjugate) prior to entry into Saudi Arabia. For all health measures, go to the Health Regulations page of the MOH.

    Advice for travellers: Meningococcal meningitis is an acute bacterial disease transmitted from person-to-person through close (kissing, sharing eating utensils) or extended contact. Risk factors include extensive travel in crowded conditions or extended contact with local people in crowded places. In North Africa’s ‘meningitis belt’, meningitis outbreaks occur in the dry season (Dec-April) and just prior to the rainy season (May-June). If you plan to visit this region, call Travelvax Australia’s free travel health advisory service (1300 360 164 - toll-free for landlines) for further advice. Read more about Men. meningitis.

    Thailand: Zika confirmed in Phichit

    At least 11 people have Zika virus disease in the district of Bung Na Rang in Phichit Province (300km north of Bangkok); a further 27 are under observation waiting confirmation from laboratory tests. In a Bangkok Post article, the governor of Phichit province said ‘There was no reason to panic, Phichit was not the only province where zika cases were reported … . Chaiyaphum, Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai had previously reported a number of cases.’ Insecticide spraying has been underway in the affected district since the news broke. 

    Advice for travellers: Zika’s symptoms include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis lasting 4-7 days. Long-term ill-effects are rare, although the joint pain may linger for weeks, even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants – even in upmarket hotels and resorts. Transmission of Zika virus has also occurred during pregnancy, breastfeeding, sexually and also through blood or blood products. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the main feeding time for Aedes mosquitoes. All travellers, but particularly pregnant women or those planning pregnancy, should seek medical advice before travel to Zika-affected areas. Read information on smartraveller (DFAT).

    Ukraine: Food safety violations rife

    Seventy-nine of the 83 popular restaurants that have undergone recent food safety testing in the capital Kiev recorded violations and 2 outlets of a chain of sushi restaurants were found to have sickened nearly 40 patrons with salmonella poisoning. New legislation advocates impromptu inspections rather than the previously pre-arranged checks by food authorities. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Salmonella is bacteria typically found is food, such as poultry, that causes diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. Illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment, although diarrhoea may be so severe as to require hospital treatment. Young children and the elderly are at highest risk of severe illness. As there is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis, it is best to avoid raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat. Read more.

    United States of America: Possible bumper year for ticks: Mumps island-hops

    A news report provided details on the likelihood of a bad tick season this year following mild winters and plentiful food for a common tick host, the mouse. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Powassan encephalitis are some of the tick-borne infections that could become more prevalent. Read more.
    THE mumps outbreak in Hawaii had produced 133 cases as of June 29th according to a Dept of Health update – almost half were adults. One of the recent cases was recorded on the Big Island – the first Hawaii Island has seen this year. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is the most common human tick-borne infectious disease in the northern hemisphere, occurring mainly in temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia. Ticks can attach to any part of the body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. Infected ticks must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before transmission of the Lyme bacteria can occur, so it’s important travellers conduct a thorough full-body check each day after outdoor activities. The CDC’s Lyme disease factsheet offers more prevention advice.

    Vietnam: Upswing in mozzie diseases

    Dengue fever cases have risen as much as 40 percent over the last month in Ho Chi Minh City and children have been particularly hard hit - 2 paediatric hospitals admit around 120 cases each week. A similar rise in dengue cases has also been reported in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau (also 7 malaria cases). Read more. And in Hanoi, there’s already been a rise in the incidence of both dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. Read more.