Health Alerts
Democratic Republic of Congo: Cholera strikes in east

International aid agencies are on the ground in the eastern province of South Kivu as local health resources struggle to manage the cholera outbreak that has been ongoing since July. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is assisting with treatment of the patients, while admitting that the situation could easily worsen. 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

France: More chikungunya cases in SE

The latest World Health Organization (WHO) update on the chikungunya cases reported in the SE it notes that ‘All 13 patients (4 confirmed, 1 probable and 8 suspected) ... are inhabitants of the same district of the commune of Cannet des Maures in Var department.’ It went on to state that, ‘chikungunya is an emerging disease in southern Europe, and an outbreak is considered unexpected. The vector Aedes albopictus is establishing itself in large part of the Mediterranean basin and beyond.’ 

Advice for travellers: The symptoms of chikungunya fever are similar to dengue fever and both are transmitted by the same mosquitoes – the day-time feeding Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Acute joint pain with a rash is typical of chikungunya and while fatal cases are rare, painful joints may persist for weeks or months after the acute phase has ended. There is no vaccine or prevention medication; using an effective, tropical-strength repellent to avoid insect bites is the best form of protection. Read more about chikungunya.

India: Monsoon rains fuel vector-borne infections

The tally of mosquito-borne infections affecting cities and states is mounting as the monsoon season progresses – malaria, dengue and chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis cases are continuing to rise, with various reports coming in from Pune in Maharashtra state, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and the National Capital Territory (Delhi).

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

Myanmar: Severe dengue season

Like other countries in the region, dengue fever is rampant but this year there’s been a 4-fold increase in cases over 2016. Most affected have been the regions of Yangon, Ayeyawady and Rakhine State. The national death toll has now topped 131 for the year. 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.

Nepal: Floods carry multiple disease threats

Disease outbreaks in the wake of the floods are starting to appear in the Terai region. Local reporting gives details of diarrhoea, dengue and viral fever cases ‘overwhelming’ the hospitals. Read more. A concerning report from a doctor in Kathmandu that cases of scrub typhus are appearing in parts of the city, away from the sites more commonly associated with the tick-borne infection. Read more. In the far-western district of Bajura, malaria is being reported for the first time. The region, which has been considered too high to have the risk of malaria is now seeing warmer temperatures, leading to the presence of the malaria vector. Read more.

Advice for travellers: Scrub typhus is a bacterial disease passed on to humans by mites that normally live on rodents infected with the disease. Most travel-acquired cases occur when travellers camp, hike, or go river rafting in rural areas in endemic countries. Scrub typhus occurs throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where more than a million cases occur annually. There is no vaccine or prevention medication: avoidance hinges on minimising insect bites. Due to the disease’s 5- to 14-day incubation period, travellers often experience symptoms (fever, headache, malaise, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and a rash) after their trip. Read more about rickettsial diseases.

Pakistan: NW dengue surge

In the NW border province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa dengue fever has struck, infecting over 3,000 people. In the capital Peshawar epidemic zones have appeared where the water lying in used tyres has become dengue-transmitting mosquito breeding grounds. Read more.

Sri Lanka: Dengue battle continues

A concerted campaign to tackle the dengue epidemic is drawing to a close this week, with a final push in the Western Division. The year to date count of dengue cases is now in excess of 145,000 with 360 deaths – between them, the cities of Colombo, Gampaha and Kandy have recorded over 66,000 cases. Read more.

United States of America: Hep A rise

An increase in hepatitis A cases seen in the state of Colorado is thought to be linked to the rise in cases earlier this year in New York and in Europe – in the wider community, but more specifically in the risk group, men who have sex with men (MSM). 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.

Vietnam: Dengue & HFMD spike

Health departments across the country are struggling to cope with the influx of dengue fever cases and now, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD). Ho Chi Minh City has the lion’s share of the 51,000 cases recorded, however Hanoi is reporting more dengue cases – 20,000 of the national total of 100,000, with more expected during the current peak season. The US CDC has issued a travel advisory referring to the dengue fever outbreak. Read more

Advice for travellers: Parents of young children should be aware of that seasonal epidemics of HFMD occur throughout Asia. The virus mainly affects young children and symptoms include fever, oral lesions, and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. There is no vaccine or preventative medication, but good hand hygiene will greatly reduce the risk of infection.

Yemen: Hope cholera outbreak stabilising

There had been recent improvement in the cholera situation with numbers on the decline, however in the most recent reporting week there has been a rise in cases again. The total case count in the 4 months of the outbreak is now over 580,000 with 2,028 associated deaths. Read more.