Health Alerts
  • Bangladesh: Dengue’s early riser

    Dengue fever cases are at a 17-year high in the capital Dhaka in the lead up to the peak monsoon season. Usually the city experiences a lull during the early months of the year, but early rains have contributed to mosquito numbers, including the vectors of dengue and chikungunya. 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 an effective 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.

    Brazil: YF nears Rio

    Residents living near known yellow fever (YF) risk areas – where there have been deaths due to YF or known outbreaks among non-human primates - will be the first to be vaccinated against the viral illness in the state of Rio de Janeiro, with plans to cover the entire state including Rio itself by the end of the year. On April 20th, health authorities announced the death of a man in a town 50km from downtown Rio – his was the 3rd death from 11 cases in the state. Read more. The latest WHO/PAHO Situation Update can be found here. It includes the following data from 6 states (Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Tocantins): ‘2,900 cases of yellow fever reported (681 confirmed, 1,451 discarded, and 768 suspected under investigation), including 372 deaths (234 confirmed, 103 discarded, and 35 under investigation). The case fatality rate (CFR) is 34% among confirmed cases.’

    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

    Burundi: Malaria alert raised

    A ‘Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions’ Travel Notice has been instigated by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for US travellers to Burundi in response to a surge in the numbers of malaria cases: ‘A malaria epidemic has been declared by the Burundi Ministry of Health. All of the country’s 18 provinces are reporting higher numbers of malaria cases than expected and nine provinces—Gitega, Kirundo, Muyinga, Karusi, Kayanza, Ngosi, Ruyigi, Cankuzo and Cibitoko—have been especially hard-hit.’ Read more. Earlier this month, a ReliefWeb update noted that there had been nearly 2 million malaria cases (and 869 deaths) in an overall population of fewer than 11 million. 

    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.

    China: Bird flu peaks again

    An Avian Flu Diary (Afludiary) report highlights a rise in human H7N9 bird flu cases from the mainland over the last 7-8 weeks: ’After weeks of decline, recent outbreaks in Beijing, Tibet, Hunan, Hebei, and Sichuan have more than doubled this week's total over last week's (29 vs. 14).’ It went on to reiterate the US CDC’s earlier risk assessment: “this virus continues to evolve and it remains at the very top of the CDC's list of viruses with pandemic potential. 

    Ethiopia: Cholera surge in Doolo

    A severe drought in the eastern Somali region has led to a cholera outbreak that has produced 3,500 cases in the last month alone. Doolo zone, which lies near the border with Somalia, has been particularly hard hit; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing humanitarian aid. Read more in ProMED post (includes South Sudan update), 

    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

    Europe: Measles tracks on, not just kids affected

    With the large measles outbreak affecting many countries on the Continent, it’s Romania that's dominating the figures. One local news article gives the data as: ‘4881 cases, including 23 deaths, nearly 90 illnesses more than the previous week …Cases of measles have spread in 38 counties, mostly in -Caraş Severin - 943, Timis - 903 and Arad - 831. Of the 4881 cases, 4,696 are people who have never been vaccinated. Read more in a flutrackers post.  And in neighbouring Bulgaria, Plovdiv district has recorded 65 suspected measles cases in the latest outbreak, 4 of those over the weekend. A health official was quoted as saying that most cases (32) were in the city of Plovdiv, with several other towns also affected (Sadovo, Stamboliyski, Maritsa, Krichim, Rodopi, Brezovo, Kaloyanovo, Rakovski and Karlovo). Read more. A European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) update issued on Monday, titled ‘Measles does not only affect children: trends for 2016 and outbreaks in Europe during 2017’, stressed the need for ensuring that vaccinations were up to date for all ages, because ‘in 2014 over half of the cases were in adults over 20 years old, in 2015 and 2016 this age group accounted for approximately one third of all cases.’ 

    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.

    Fiji: Upward dengue trend

    Figures released on dengue fever cases for the year up to April 2nd reveal that the Central division (eastern region of the largest island, Viti Levu, including the capital Suva) recorded the highest incidence. Overall there were 913 cases; the health ministry notes that concerted efforts to eliminate dengue have not been effective, in fact there has been a yearly increase in incidence. Read more.

    India: Hep A strikes in Kerala

    Up to 40 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in areas of Ernakulam district, including Kochi – over half of the cases are students of a medical college. It is thought that contaminated food bought from street vendors may have caused at least some of the cases. 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 common infection in travellers and is a significant risk in most developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that is 99%-plus effective and protects most people for at least 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    New Caledonia: Dengue season lingers

    A further 377 dengue fever cases have been added since the last update was issued by the Directions des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales on April 12th – 184 in the most recent week. Noumea has recorded most cases – almost 1,400 since September 1, 2016. Read more. In other reports, dengue outbreaks are continuing in Nauru, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu (slowing). Read more. ReliefWeb’s Western Pacific Region’s Dengue Situation Update can be found here

    Niger: Epidemic declared in SE

    In the far south-eastern region of Diffa, near the Nigerian border, 135 suspected hepatitis E cases have been recorded since the beginning of the month; 25 succumbed to complications of the infection (all were pregnant women). It is believed contaminated water is responsible for the declared epidemic. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through faecal contamination of drinking water. Unlike the Hep A and B viruses, there is no vaccine for this strain, which is especially common in communities with lower levels of sanitation and hygiene. More than 60% of all hepatitis E infections and 65% of deaths occur in East and South Asia. Read more about the virus and how to prevent it.

    Nigeria: Men. Meningitis cases near 10,000

    Epidemic response measures, including urgent vaccine distribution, are in place in 29 of the 43 local government areas of the 6 states most affected by the meningococcal meningitis outbreak (Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Yobe, Kebbi, and Niger). The Apr 24th situation update issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced that: ‘9,646 suspected cases reported, 277 (2.9%) were laboratory confirmed, and 839 deaths (8.7%) recorded’ up to April 22nd. Read more.

    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. Nigeria lies in North Africa’s ‘meningitis belt’, where 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.

    Pakistan: Chikungunya spreads to western coast

    The chikungunya outbreak that struck Karachi in December, producing over 1,400 cases, now appears to have spread to Gwadar in Balochistan province. Almost 2,000 residents of the port city have suffered symptoms typical of the mosquito-borne illness, prompting authorities to carry out tests to confirm the causative virus. Read more.

    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 egypti 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.

    Singapore: Three Zika clusters active, dengue present

    Insect control activities are underway in the area that has produced 6 Zika virus cases from 3 active clusters over the past 2 weeks. The National Environment Agency Zika webpage identifies the sites which are in the Kovan area mentioned in previous reports. Read more. The agency also reports on dengue fever cases and clusters – 865 cases since the beginning of the year. Currently there is one high risk cluster (>10 cases) in Bedok North and 4 others considered active with fewer than 10 cases. Read more.

    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).

    Somalia: Vax program for 110,000

    Over 110,000 children under 5 years of age will be vaccinated against measles in the next few weeks as international agencies assist local authorities in curbing the outbreak that has produced nearly suspected 5,700 cases already this year. The campaign, which will kick off this week in Baidoa, capital of Southwestern State, is for the benefit of the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDP) who have fled prolonged drought conditions for the safety of camps. Read more. Cholera epidemics also underway in the south have had the most impact on the regions of Gedo and Bakool, causing as many as 25,000 deaths over a 3 month period this year. Read more.

    United States of America: Fears allayed over rare disease

    A semi-slug found in a bucket of home-made kava stored outdoors before consuming is thought to be behind some of the cases of rat lungworm disease identified recently in Hawaii. Health and tourist officials reassured the travelling public this week insisting that the parasitic infection is rare and ‘the disease is easily preventable by properly washing and storing all food, especially produce, before eating.’ This year there have been 11 infections in total – 5 on the Big Island and 6 on Maui. Read more.

    Zimbabwe: Anthrax-tainted meat sickens villagers

    The consumption of hippo meat that was contaminated with anthrax bacteria sickened 11 Mlibizi villagers and caused one death. Almost 60 people in Binga district, on the south-eastern shores of Lake Kariba remain under observation for signs of the illness. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The anthrax bacterium is transmitted to people in the form of spores which are can produce disease through consuming contaminated meat, through inhalation or via contact with the wool, hair or hide of infected animals. The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, so infection is a low risk to travellers. Read more about anthrax

  • Brazil: More Bahia towns on YF list; Chikungunya cases rise; Rio’s malaria risk; STI strikes central highlands

    The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) updated its yellow fever (YF) travel alert on Apr 13th to include those areas most recently categorised as potential YF risk sites. ‘Yellow fever vaccination is now recommended in all of Espiríto Santo and Rio de Janeiro states; São Paulo state, with the exception of the urban area of the city of São Paulo; and a number of municipalities in the state of Bahia.’ A list of those affected towns in Bahia state is provided.  
    NEW chikungunya data provided to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for the 2 weeks up to the end of March made up 90 percent of the reported cases for the region. Over 16,750 cases were recorded in Brazil, with Peru (78 cases) and Paraguay second and third (67). Read more
    AT least 5 men (age range 16 to 54 years) have been diagnosed with malaria in Petrópolis, a city in the forested Serra dos Órgãos approx. 70kms from Rio de Janeiro. It is a popular winter tourist destination. According to the CDC, cases of malaria in this region are rare, but mosquito bite avoidance measures are always recommended. Read more.  
    MEN aged 20 to 29 are among the worst hit in an epidemic of syphilis underway in the Federal District. A Portuguese-language report names the cities of Taguatinga, Paranoá and Planaltina as being most affected. Almost 1,300 cases of the sexually transmitted infection were reported there last year. 

    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

    China: Bird flu on mainland, Tibet

    A further 14 cases of H7N9 avian influenza were reported in the week of April 9-15, but there are hopes that the change in season, together with measures such as the banning of the sale of live poultry, will bring a drop in the viral disease’s incidence.Read Afludiary report. In a recent update on human cases recorded in Beijing, authorities have advised that there have been 10 cases during the current wave – made up of 4 locals and 6 others who are believed to be itinerant poultry traders from Hebei province. Read more.  And in Tibet, 2 men who also sell poultry at the Lhasa  market where the country’s first case worked have been diagnosed with H7N9 infection. Read more

    Europe: Regional measles threat continues

    The ongoing measles outbreaks was the topic of a WHO press release at the end of March, with concerns that 14 countries in the region remained endemic for the viral illness. This week the US CDC issued travel alerts connected to the outbreaks for Belgium, Italy and Germany. In related news from Portugal, a 17-year-old girl has died in Lisbon from complications of measles infection. She was one of 23 confirmed and suspected cases recorded in the country this year. 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.

    Nepal: Chickenpox erupts in central region

    In the south of the Central Development Region, scores of people in Rautahat district have been infected with chickenpox. All age groups have been affected. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Mainly passed from person to person by coughing or sneezing, it causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. While the illness is generally mild in children, it can be more severe in young babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Read more about chickenpox.

    New Caledonia: Dengue toll hits 7

    A news report has announced the 7th death due to dengue fever this season. The woman was a resident of Païta, a town approx. half way between Noumea and the airport at La Tontouta. Government figures on the outbreak have not been updated since Apr 12th when the total case count since Sept 1, 2016 was 2,556. Read more (translate from French). New infections are expected to dip in the early days following the recent activity of Cyclone Cook, but may rise again with standing water offering suitable mosquito breeding grounds. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: 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 an effective repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    New Zealand: Auckland’s typhoid waning, mumps persists

    While signs are that the typhoid outbreak is slowing, authorities will continue checking contacts of those infected within the affected Mt Roskill church’s wider community. To date there have been 22 cases, with one other likely. Read more.
    MUMPS cases in West Auckland have increased from the 39 reported on Apr 3rd to 55, according to the latest update. School and university students of all ages have been hardest hit in the outbreak.

    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.

    Nigeria: Plans to halt Men. meningitis epidemic

    An April 17th update issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on the 6 states with Men. meningitis epidemics included the following details. ‘8,057 suspected cases have been reported; 230 (3%) are laboratory confirmed. A total of 745 deaths (9.2%) have been recorded. During the last four weeks, a total of 38 Local Government Areas (LGAs) across six states— Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, and Yobe—reached alert/epidemic threshold status. LGAs reaching the alert threshold trigger intensified epidemic preparedness; a full outbreak response is activated in LGAs reaching the epidemic threshold.’ NCDC Update (Week 17). International agencies, including the WHO, are currently sending vaccines for use in the planned extensive campaign. Read more.

    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. Nigeria lies in North Africa’s ‘meningitis belt’, where 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.

    Qatar: MERS count increases again

    With the MERS case reported last month still recuperating, a 25-year old man has been admitted to hospital for treatment of the coronavirus infection. He had no contact with camels and had not travelled outside the country. Read more. ProMED provides details of recent cases that continue to be reported in Saudi Arabia

    Guadeloupe: Alarm over chickenpox spike

    Chickenpox is spreading in the island group, with a sharp increase noted last week (approx.130 cases). According to the French language news report, Saint Martin has also seen a rise in incidence, even referring to it as an epidemic. Read more

    Tonga: Measures to contain typhoid

    The government has responded to an outbreak of typhoid by banning food production for public events and the serving of kava in town halls. Up to 11 cases have been identified, with 5 of those from the village of Veitongo, about 8kms from the centre of Nuku’alofa. Read more.

    United States of America: Lone Star state mumps climbing

    Texas has seen a surge in mumps cases, with health authorities advising that numbers have reached a 23-year peak. Reports have come from across the state – 221 in total for the year. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The outbreaks of mumps across many areas of North America highlight 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.

    Vanuatu: Dengue alert continues

    The dengue fever outbreak that started back in November last year has produced at least 2,358 cases – testing was not carried out on the majority of cases so only 446 infections were actually confirmed as dengue. While cases are on the decline, with the recent cyclone activity in the area, as with New Caledonia, there is likely to be an abundance of mosquito breeding sites in the wake of flooding. Read more.

    Vietnam: Diseases spike in north

    According to the Hanoi Preventive Medicine Centre, there has been a rise in the incidence of measles, rubella and whooping cough in the first 3 months of the year; however it is the sharp increase in dengue fever cases that is worrying. Cases underwent a 44 percent growth over the same time 2016, the cooler, dry season of the country’s north. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Rubella is spread by airborne droplets and can cause serious birth defects if infection occurs during early pregnancy. Rubella is the 'R' component in the triple MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, one of the routine immunisations which should be current for prior to overseas travel. Travellers should also check their immunisation status for tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough.

  • Australia: Mozzie threat over holiday time; Water carries disease threats in Melbourne, Darwin

    NSW’s Health Minister has issued a warning for people planning on spending time outdoors over the Easter break to avoid mosquito bites. The flooding in the north of the state, as well as recent rains in the south, have increased the risk of transmission of diseases such as Ross River fever and Barmah Forest virus. Read more.
    IN Melbourne, 5 people are recovering in hospital after receiving treatment for Legionnaire’s disease; it is believed they contracted the bacteria while in a limited area of the CBD. Decontamination of water systems and cooling towers is currently being carried out. The state health department website at health.vic is advising medical follow-up for anyone with ‘influenza-like symptoms, particularly those with severe pneumonia, who have been around the Melbourne CBD or Southbank areas since the end of March 2017.’ Read more
    NEW building works underway in Darwin are believed to be part of the reason for an uptick in melioidosis cases in the Territory. While the causative bacterium is present in the soil in many areas of the Top End, it takes heavy rains for it to become easier to infect people. So far this year, Darwin has seen 39 cases and 9 deaths. Read more. More on melioidosis.

    Advice for travellers: Cases of Ross River occur throughout Australia, including more temperate southern states. Travellers visiting areas of Australia affected by recent flooding or continuing rain should take measures to prevent mosquito bites. Use a personal effective insect effective ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outdoors and wear long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing – especially at dawn and dusk, the times of day when RRV-carrying insects are most active.

    Bhutan: Continued hope for measles elimination

    The target for eliminating measles is the end of 2018, but it’s hoped that results of tests carried out on 16 cases reported in Samtse, Phuentsholing and Thimphu this year will show that they weren’t indigenous cases, but were caused by imported strains of the virus. Both Samtse and Phuentsholing lie in the country’s west, near the border with the Indian state of West Bengal. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Measles is a highly contagious virus and can cause serious illness in people of all ages. Most of the rising number of cases reported in Australia are linked to overseas travel - both developing and developed countries. Travelvax Australia recommends travellers check their immunisation status for measles and other childhood diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and mumps 6 weeks before departure. 

    Botswana: Malaria rise to persist till May

    The malaria surge first announced in February this year is likely to continue to the end of the current wet season in May. The north-western district of Okavango has been severely hit. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Malaria is endemic in many areas of southern Africa. Travelvax recommends that travellers visiting this region discuss their itinerary and preventative medication at their nearest Travelvax clinic, or with their healthcare provider. For advice, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164.

    Brazil: Yellow fever update

    An area taking in the five states of Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo is the epicentre of the current yellow fever outbreak.. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) April 6th update, there have been ‘2,210 cases of yellow fever reported (604 confirmed, 1,054 discarded, and 552 suspected under investigation), including 302 deaths (202 confirmed, 52 discarded, and 48 under investigation).’ Over the last week or so, southern parts of Espírito Santo and the state of Rio de Janeiro have been seeing a rise in cases, and 4 confirmed infections were reported from Pará (towns of Alenquer & Monte Alegre). The report goes on to say that the urban-dwelling Aedes aegypti mosquito (also the vector of dengue, Zika & chikungunya) does not seemed to have played a part in the spread of the diseas thus far. The PAHO warns that there continues to be a risk of the outbreak widening to include other countries in the region following the reporting of outbreaks in primates in states adjacent to national borders. Read more  More on yellow fever from the World Health Organization (WHO). 

    Canada: Mumps in Manitoba

    There’s been no relief from the reports of mumps cases occurring in many regions of North America. This week it has been announced that Manitoba has recorded almost 100 cases over the past month, bringing the total for the past 7 months to a 20–year high of 290. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The outbreaks of mumps occurring across several regions of North America highlight 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.

    Czech Republic: Measles hike in Northern Moravia

    Measles cases in the NW Moravian-Silesian Region have spiked recently, with as many as 38 cases diagnosed. The capital of the region, Ostrava has reported most cases to date. This follows reports of a sharp rise in cases across many countries in Europe, notably Romania and Italy. Read more.

    Ethiopia: Gastro illness strikes near southern border

    An outbreak of ‘acute watery diarrhoea’ (AWD) has struck a southern region near the border with Somalia. A news report gives varying details of the actual case count and death tolls but does note that medical teams have been sent to the area to provide treatment. Read more. And in Somaliland, an outbreak of cholera/AWD has sickened over 400 people and caused the deaths of 28 over the past 12 days. 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

    India: Uptick in chickenpox

    Cases of chickenpox have topped the 1,000 mark in Mumbai during February and March, double the 4-month total for the beginning of 2016 – most cases have been in children. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Mainly passed from person to person by coughing or sneezing, it causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. While the illness is generally mild in children, it can be more severe in young babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Read more about chickenpox.

    Kenya: Malaria spike in central west

    Continuing rains falling in Uasin Gishu County, part of the former Rift Valley province, have led to a spike in malaria cases. Around 100 cases have been recorded over the last 4 weeks and more are expected right up to the start of the dry season in July. Read more.

    Marshall Islands: New outbreak for Majuro

    The hepatitis A outbreak that hit the islands in January has been controlled with an extensive vaccination program, but now mumps is circulating among schools in teh capital, Majuro. Authorities have announced that there have been more than 250 cases in total. Read more.

    Nepal: Leishmaniasis outbreak hits the unwary

    Leishmaniasis, or kala azar (a parasitic disease transmitted by some species of phlebotomine sand flies), has caused at least 2 deaths and sickened many other villagers from the Sarlahi district in southern central Nepal. Calls have been made for more awareness of the disease and its prevention among local people to prevent more cases occurring. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. There are two main forms – cutaneous and visceral – both transmitted by bites from infected sand flies. There is no vaccine or preventative medication: avoiding infection relies on minimising sand fly bites. Read more on the disease and prevention. 

    New Caledonia: Dengue persists into April

    Three dengue virus serotypes are circulating in the current epidemic declared in early January. The case count for April (till the 12th) increased to 215 from last week’s 63. Read more.

    New Zealand: More news on typhoid outbreak

    The number of infections in the outbreak stemming from the Mt Roskill Samoan Assembly of God Church now sits at 20, with a further case under investigation. Testing of contacts revealed the 2 most recent confirmed cases; however they were not showing symptoms. Read moreSamoan health authorities have requested that any nationals who have recently travelled to Auckland (and in particular to areas around Mt Roskill) be tested for typhoid. Read more.

    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

    Nigeria: Men. Meningitis toll nears 500

    While there are a total of 19 states reporting meningococcal meningitis cases, it’s the states of Zamfara, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Niger that have borne the brunt of the outbreaks. The most recent report issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on April 6th gave the case count as 3,959 infected with 438 deaths (updated to 4,637 cases & 489 deaths on Apr 11). As mentioned in previous reports, the bacteria's ‘C’ strain is largely responsible and the hardest hit age group is the 5 to 14 years cohort. Read more.

    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. Nigeria lies in North Africa’s ‘meningitis belt’, where 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.

    Pakistan: Chickenpox outbreak hits major city

    It’s not just children who are falling ill in a chickenpox epidemic that has struck the city of Faisalabad, adults and the elderly have also been affected. The death toll in the outbreak now sits at 12 as local authorities attempt to source adequate supplies of vaccines for this central region of Punjab province. Read more.

    Peru: Rains add to dengue woes

    At least 3 people have died of dengue fever in the current season, with rains prolonging the threat. In the north-west, Piura's dengue case count is 707, a figure that is 20 percent of the national total. Read more (translate from Spanish).

    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.

    Singapore: Zika, dengue updates

    The area of the first Zika virus cluster of the year remains under surveillance and has produced no further cases; however 4 new cases were identified this week from the Hougang/Serangoon area in the city-state’s east. Read more. Three locations in the north, east and south have produced the most recent dengue fever cases as the year’s case count reached 781 this week. Read more.

    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). 

    China: Human bird flu first for Tibet, more mainland cases

    A Chinese national, who was known to work with live poultry has been diagnosed with H7N9 avian influenza – he is currently being treated at a hospital in Lhasa. Read more. Chinese authorities announced a further 14 cases for the mainland (in addition to the Tibet case) this week: Beijing (3 cases), Hunan & Jiangsu (2 cases each) and one case each from Chongqing, Fujian, Gansu, Guizhou, Henan, Shandong and Zhejiang. Read more.

    United Arab Emirates: MERS revisits

    The first case of MERS Co-V to occur in the Emirates in 10 months has been announced this week. The man has been hospitalised in Abu Dhabi; however no further details were provided. The Ministry of Health and Prevention is advising people to employ strict personal hygiene measures: ‘wash hands often with soap and water, use hand sanitiser if the former is not readily accessible, cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue into a rubbish receptacle.’ Read more. More on MERS.

    United States of America: Parasitic infection in Hawaii, Maui

    Several confirmed and suspected cases of the parasitic ratworm lung disease, or Angiostrongylus infection, have been reported on Hawaii’s Big Island and Maui recently, leading health authorities to advise locals to ensure fruit and vegetables are washed thoroughly before consumption. Read more

    Zimbabwe: Floods bring disease menace

    The provinces of Matabeleland North, South and Midlands continue to suffer the after-effects of flooding, with a total of 192 deaths among the nearly 135,000 malaria cases reported since January. Read more.