Health Alerts
  • Angola: Cholera now in central province

    While details are still scarce, news reports indicate that a cholera outbreak has hit a town in the coastal province of Benguela, south of Luanda. 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

    Brazil: Yellow fever spread under investigation

    Since the last Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) yellow fever update on Jan 18th, another 216 suspected cases have come under investigation (taking the total to 421), and the death toll has been revised upwards to 87. Initial disease reports came from the state of Minas Gerais, but in this latest news, other states are investigating suspected cases: Espirito Santo, Bahia, São Paulo and one possible case in the Federal district. Read more (translate from Portuguese).

    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

    Chad: Unknown source of outbreak in SE

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed an outbreak of hepatitis E among people suffering from acute jaundice syndrome (AJS) in Am Timan, capital of the south-eastern region of Salamat. To date there have been 693 cases and 11 deaths – around half of those tested were positive for Hep E infection. Advice for travellers to the area issued by the WHO includes: “follow standard hygiene recommendations in terms of water and food safety for travellers. These should protect them against Hepatitis E, as the risk of person to person transmission is very low.” Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through faecal contamination of drinking water. Infection is likely to be more severe if contracted during pregnancy. 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 hepatitis E.

    China: WHO issues warning over bird flu surge

    The number of avian influenza outbreaks and the different strains of the virus involved are concerning the World Health Organization (WHO), with the director-general, Dr Margaret Chan, issuing a warning this week. Dr Chan also spoke of novel bird flu strains (such as H5N6), which become virulent through gene-swapping (this strain has killed humans in China as late as December 2106). This comes as the total of H7N9 strain cases reported in the first 2 weeks of January hit 111. Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) has been monitoring the situation and cautioned that the current winter season is “progressing much faster than the situation last winter." Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Human H7N9 cases continue to be reported in mainland China, possibly linked to the sale of poultry. However, there has been no sustained person-to-person transmission. While bird flu poses a low risk to most travellers, the risk is somewhat higher in winter and spring, with a spike possible as street markets ramp up ahead of the Lunar New Year. Read more about avian influenza

    Europe: Flu season ramping up

    Influenza activity across the region is rising, with only Albania in the very high category. Countries reporting high activity in the latest report include Finland, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Austria and Greece. Read more from Flu News Europe.

    Indonesia: Bali’s rabies risk lingers

    Two separate instances of rabies risks have been reported recently in Tabanan regency, north of Bali’s capital of Denpasar, the first for 2017. In one of the rabies exposures, 6 people were bitten by an unvaccinated 2-month-old puppy which was later found to be infected with the deadly virus. Post-exposure vaccinations were provided according to the news article. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Rabies continues to be a risk in many areas of Bali. Generally, the risk for most short-stay travellers is low: Vaccination is normally recommended for those staying for more than a month, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas, but is itinerary-specific. However, Australians visiting the popular destination 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. Read more on rabies.

    Marshall Islands: Hep A strikes kids, source unknown

    In the 4 months to mid-January, there have been 79 hepatitis A cases reported among young children in the capital Majuro. Investigations are continuing into the source of the outbreak. 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 one of the most common infections 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 for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    Mexico: Dengue mozzie hits the heights

    While dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya are present in Mexico, until now the risk of infection has been restricted to regions under 1,700 metres above sea level (masl) as they offer the best conditions for the vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Now, a recently published study has released details of the discovery of the insect in 2 popular localities of Mexico City in 2015. The capital has not previously been a likely habitat of the insect due to its elevation (2,250masl) which gives the city its cool and dry climate. Read more (study abstract).

    New Caledonia: Peak in dengue to come

    There have now been 245 dengue fever cases confirmed in the territory since the beginning of the year and a total of 409 since the beginning of the season in September last year according to the DASS (Direction des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales). Authorities are concerned that cases in this outbreak could exceed the 2013 total of 10, 522. The greater area of the capital Noumea is most affected in the outbreak. Read more (translate from French).

    Nigeria: Lassa fever strikes in central province

    Five Lassa fever cases have been reported from the central state of Plateau already this year; four of those have succumbed to the infection. The Health Ministry is attempting to increase public awareness of disease prevention and the need for early diagnosis. Lassa fever is endemic to Nigeria, with cases found in the past from 23 of the country’s 36 states. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa, notably in Nigeria, Guinea, and Liberia. As many as 300,000 cases and 5000 deaths occur each year. However, Lassa is a remote risk for travellers. Rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and it is spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person. Read more about Lassa fever.

    Puerto Rico: 1 in 20 people exposed to Zika infection

    The majority of the 112 new Zika virus infections reported in US territories last week were in Puerto Rico, where some specialists in the field believe up to 20 percent of the population has been infected. 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).

    Saudi Arabia: 4 more MERS cases, 1 death

    Since our last post there have been 4 further MERS cases and one death – all recent cases are considered primary i.e. having direct contact with camels. Read more.

    Sudan: Cholera in 2 more states

    A committee of senior doctors has issued a statement warning of the spread of cholera to the states of El Gezira and Red Sea. Sporadic outbreaks have been occurring since September last year, with Blue Nile, Kassala and River Nile early locations to be affected. Read more.

    Uganda: Meningococcal risk rises

    Authorities are carrying out vaccination campaigns ahead of a predicted outbreak of meningococcal A disease. According to a health official, it is 10 years since the last outbreak and (vaccine-induced) immunity will have waned in the community. Most at-risk regions in Uganda are areas within: West Nile, Bunyoro, Acholi, Lango regions and Teso and Karamoja. Parts of northern Uganda lie at the eastern end of the so-called African Meningitis Belt. 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. South Sudan 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.

    United States of America: Flu season update; NW mumps outbreak expands

    The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) update on influenza infections includes news that there are now 29 states listed as reporting high activity, including many central states that are new additions to the surge. Circulating strains include influenza A(H3 & H1) and B. Hawaiian health authorities expect their flu numbers to rise, related to the mainland increases. Read more
    Washington State’s mumps outbreak shows no sign of slowing. The most recent update indicated a further 57 cases reported, with figures due to be updated again today. The biggest increase has been in Spokane County, while King County has had most cases overall. Read more

    Advice for travellers: This ongoing 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.

    Vanuatu: Dengue numbers climb

    Dengue fever updates to Jan 19th provided in the WHO’s Pacific Syndromic Surveillance Report reveal that there have been 822 cases since November last year, with an average of 200 cases reported each week. A recent increase in cases has been seen from Santo Island. Read more.

  • Angola: Soyo’s cholera not over; Luanda rabies vax campaign planned

    A cholera outbreak affecting the northern city of Soyo at the mouth of the Congo River is not yet contained. Over 115 cases and 6 deaths have already resulted. According to the Health Minister, contingency plans are well under way. Read more
    A RABIES vaccination campaign will target dogs, cats and monkeys in the capital’s province of Luanda later this month, as authorities act to stem the number of (mainly) child deaths caused by bites from rabid animals. Over 110 deaths were recorded in the province in the first 11 months of the year, 24 of those in Cacuaco, a suburb of Luanda. 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 recommendations are itinerary-specific but include those travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas. Read more on rabies

    Australia: Imported measles for VIC and NSW

    Anyone who has visited areas near Rowville in Victoria and the Macleay Valley in NSW recently is asked to be on alert for symptoms following the notification of measles infections to local health authorities. The Victorian cases (2) had travelled on a flight from Kuala Lumpur and were possibly infectious at that time; the NSW case had also contracted the infection while overseas. Measles symptoms include fever, malaise, cough, cold symptoms and conjunctivitis, followed by a rash that starts on the face before becoming widespread. As noted in the Australian Immunisation Handbook, measles is often a serious disease that leads to acute encephalitis in one in 1,000 cases. It is highly infectious.  

    Advice for travellers: Measles is a highly contagious virus and can cause serious illness in people of all ages. The majority 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.

    Brazil: Disease alert expands; Chikungunya gains ground again

    The yellow fever outbreak in Minas Gerais posted in last week’s alerts has now claimed 30 lives and the number of suspected cases sits at 110. To date 15 towns have been affected and a state of emergency has been declared. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a Disease Outbreak News report on Jan 13th that gives details of the government’s response to the outbreak, including house-to house vaccinations, public awareness campaigns, control of the mosquito vector and surveillance. Neighbouring states are on the alert for any importation of the virus. Concern is mounting in view of the prevalence of the mosquito that transmits yellow fever in urban areas – Aedes aegypti – also the vector for Zika, chikungunya and dengue fever; large outbreaks of infections due to these 3 viruses have occurred in Brazil in recent years. Read more
    UPDATES on chikungunya cases for the first 2 weeks of December showed an increase of nearly 2,000 suspected infections and 1,855 confirmed over a 7-day period. These figures took the yearly total till mid-December to 265,554 suspected, 146,914 confirmed chikungunya cases. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Yellow fever virus is a mosquito-borne disease found in tropical and subtropical areas in 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 infections escalate

    One more death due to the H7N9 avian influenza virus has been reported in China this week. The man, a salesman, from Henan province was near Shanghai when he started to experience symptoms and returned to his home before dying the next day. Read more. Also this week, Chinese mainland health authorities announced a further 11 bird flu cases (from Hubei, Guizhou, Guangdong, and Hunan provinces) and the WHO is investigating 2 potential infection clusters from recent cases. Read more. Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) has issued a warning on the heightened risk of bird flu in neighbouring Guangdong province, especially during the time of the Lunar New Year. Travellers to the region are advised to avoid birds and poultry, stay away from poultry markets or farms and ‘take extra care in personal, hand, food and environmental hygiene’. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Human H7N9 cases continue to be reported throughout South China, possibly linked to the sale of poultry. However, there has been no sustained person-to-person transmission. While bird flu poses a low risk to most travellers, a second wave of infections is underway in several mainland provinces as street markets ramp up ahead of the Lunar New Year later this month. Read more on bird flu and how to avoid it. 

    Europe: Flu activity rising

    The European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control update on influenza activity in the region indicates widespread infection rates in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland and Uzbekistan. The dominant strain is A(H3). Read more.

    New Caledonia: Alert for start of dengue season

    With around 20 dengue fever infections are being reported every day, a health official has declared that the sudden increase in cases is concerning and warned that an epidemic may be around the corner. Since the beginning of the year, 127 cases have been confirmed (8 were imported from Vanuatu). Read more (translate from French) http://www.lnc.nc/article/pays/la-dengue-gagne-du-terrain-les-defenses-s-organisent

    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, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites

    Nicaragua: Govt. concerns over vax requirement

    The convergence of the yellow fever outbreak affecting Brazil, outbreaks of dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika virus in the region and the country’s high prevalence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito vector has prompted the government to reconsider its vaccination requirements for arriving tourists. At present, proof of yellow fever vaccination is not needed when entering Nicaragua from endemic countries; however the neighbouring nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras do have stated requirements (see WHO Country List). A decision is expected soon. Read more.

    Nigeria: Lassa confirmed in 7 states

    Since the beginning of the dry season in December, 20 Lassa fever cases have been recorded with 9 deaths resulting. The states of Plateau, Ogun, Taraba, Nasarawa have all reported Lassa fever–related deaths while Edo, Ondo and Rivers states have confirmed cases but no fatalities. The Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has instituted plans to ‘prevent, detect and respond to the anticipated cases’. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa, notably in Nigeria, Guinea, and Liberia. As many as 300,000 cases and 5000 deaths occur each year. However, Lassa is a remote risk for travellers. Rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and it is spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person. Read more about Lassa fever

    Peru: Zika rises in north

    From the latest Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Zika update issued on Jan 12th: from early October to mid-December there was a rise in suspected and confirmed Zika virus infections, most noted in 4 districts of Iquitos (a gateway for tourists visiting Peruvian Amazon jungle lodges). In the same update, most countries in the region had seen a reduction in Zika infections, with the exception of Panama. Sexual transmission of the Zika virus has been reported in Argentina, Canada, Chile, Peru, and the USA. 

    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).

    Saudi Arabia: MERS cases persist

    Three more MERS Co-V cases have been reported this week, 2 from Hufoof in the country’s east and one from Najran in the south. All were noted to have had probable direct sources of infection. To date in Saudi Arabia, there have been 1,539 MERS cases with 640 deaths. Read more.

    Solomon Islands: Honiara hit hard in dengue outbreak

    A humanitarian network (IFRC) assisting in the battle against dengue fever in the islands notes that there have been as many as 7,500 dengue infections since the beginning of the current outbreak in October 2016, mostly from the capital Honiara. Read more.

    Sri Lanka: West reports highest dengue figures

    The dengue case count for January is now at 1,300 infections with over one-third of those from the Western province. Next highest in reporting were the districts of Colombo, Jaffna and Galle. Read more.

    Sudan: Cholera strikes in 3 states

    Cholera infection is the unconfirmed source in outbreaks of so-called Acute Watery Diarrhoea in the states of Khartoum, Gezira and Suakin. 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

    United States of America: Flu surges in 21 states; Mumps in 5 WA counties

    The number of states reporting high influenza activity has risen from 12 to 21 in the latest Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) FluView summary. As with Europe, the Influenza A (H3) strain is dominant. Read more
    THE mumps outbreak in Washington State that is centred on King County, but has also spread to Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Yakima Counties has produced 178 cases according to the Jan 11th update, with another Dept. of Health update due later today. 

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

    Vietnam: New Year disease risks; Central province reports diphtheria

    Authorities are on the alert for an increase in communicable diseases during the upcoming Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year). According to one news source, at this time of year when people are more likely to congregate, there has already been a rise in the incidence of chickenpox, mumps and other infectious diseases. In the same article it is noted that there have been 160 Zika virus infections in Ho Chi Minh City until Jan 16th. Read more (translate from Vietnamese). Ben Tre, a Mekong Delta province has recorded its first Zika case. Read more
    AS many as 24 students at a high school in Tây Giang District, western Quang Nam province are in isolation after 2 students died of diphtheria infection. Five people are known to be suffering symptoms of diphtheria which can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat and anorexia. The overall death rate from diphtheria infection can range from 5 to 20 percent. Read more.

    Yemen: Cholera situation stablising

    The cholera outbreak appears to be settling even as several high risk districts continue to report cases. Overall there have been 15,658 suspected cases with 11 confirmed cholera-related deaths according to the Jan 11th update. While the situation is improving or stabilising in many areas, local and international health agencies are concentrating their efforts in Mukayras (Al Bayda district), Al Hali (Al Hudaydah), Sa'fan (Sana’a), Al Mahabishah (Hajjah) and Al Husha (Al Dhale'e). Read more.

  • Angola: A first for Zika

    Zika virus infection has been detected locally for the first time: 2 people, a French tourist and a resident of the capital, Luanda, were diagnosed recently. 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).

    Brazil: Yellow fever cases investigated

    Investigations are underway in the state of Minas Gerais following the reports of human yellow fever (YF) cases. According to a Ministry of Health press release, 23 suspected YF cases (including 14 deaths) have been recorded in 10 towns, sparking vaccination programs for the affected region. The municipalities cited in the article are: Ladainha, Malacacheta, Frei Gaspar, Caratinga, Piedade de Caratinga, Imbé de Minas, Entre Folhas, Ubaporanga, Ipanema and Inhapim. Read more (translate from Portuguese).

    Advice for travellers: Yellow fever virus is a mosquito-borne disease found in tropical and subtropical areas in 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: Early surge in bird flu

    Information on 106 new H7N9 avian influenza cases on the Chinese mainland is being monitored by Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) as the territory deals with another importation of the virus - a 10-year old boy who had visited Guandong province. The sudden surge in new cases notified included cases from the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Hunan, Shandong, Guizhou, Fujian and Shanghai; many had contact with poultry or poultry markets. The peak season for avian influenza infections is during winter and spring. The CHP website has some important information on how to prevent avian influenza infection. Read more.

    Europe: Flu spikes in Balkans

    Flu surveillance across the region has identified very high activity of influenza-like illnesses in Albania and Macedonia; while in France, Finland, Greece and the Ukraine, reports of high levels are being seen at this mid-stage of the season. Influenza A(H3N2) is the dominant strain. Read more. In other regions, and in line with seasonal trends, the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Influenza Update has advised of increased influenza-like illness reports in East, West & South Asia; North America; and Northern Africa (Morocco & Tunisia noted). 

    Japan: Search for answers on STI

    The government has established a team to investigate ways of addressing the 77 percent year-on-year increase in syphilis cases. Last year there were 4,259 syphilis cases, while in 2015, that number was 2,412. Further, the 2016 figures are 7 times higher than in 2006. The highest incidence has been noted in the Shinjuku entertainment quarter of Tokyo. Reports also outline an increase in transmission through heterosexual contact and even from mother-to-child. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium that enters through wounded skin or mucous membranes. You can get syphilis by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Infections can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly with an antibiotic like penicillin. Read more about syphilis and other STIs.

    Madagascar: New plague district surfaces

    Befotaka, a remote district in the country’s south-east that sits outside the endemic plague zone has recently reported 28 cases (including 10 deaths) - both pneumonic and bubonic infections are involved. The district has not reported plague in over 55 years. The WHO is lending its assistance in the management of cases and surveillance measures, along with other International agencies, but does not believe the risk of spread to other countries is great. Read more.

    Mexico: Mozzie diseases strike hard in east

    The eastern state of Veracruz, which lies between the coastal plain of the Gulf of Mexico and the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, has topped the country’s Zika virus disease list for 2016, with 1,789 cases. Yucatan was the second highest (819 cases) of the 7,475 confirmed cases recorded across the country. Veracruz also reported the most dengue fever cases last year, with 1,833 of the national 14,121 case count. Read more (translate from Spanish).

    Pakistan: Northern districts hit by deadly measles

    Measles outbreaks in the remote mountainous districts of Zhob and Sherani in Balochistan province have claimed the lives of 11 children and infected dozens more. Read more.

    Peru: Yellow fever increase

    The Pan American Health Organization regional report on yellow fever (YF) notes that the total of 82 confirmed & probable jungle YF cases (52 of those from Junín province) was higher than the combined figure for the previous 9 years. Read more (translate from Spanish).

    Philippines: Post-typhoon cholera woes

    Cholera has broken out on the island of Catanduanes, off Luzon’s east coast, with at least 45 suspected cases and one death. One of the after-effects of Typhoon Nina, which hit the area in late December, is believed to be contamination of water supplies. 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

    Sri Lanka: New year, same foe

    The first 10 days of January have seen as many as 1,000 new dengue fever infections. New measures to tackle the mosquito-borne disease include hefty fines for houses, schools and institutions where the insects are found to be breeding. Read more.

    Switzerland: Measles increasing

    Health authorities are urging the local population to ensure they have received 2 doses of the MMR (measles, mumps & rubella) vaccine following a surge in measles cases last year. Seventy cases were reported in 2016, almost double the number from 2 years previously. Most of those cases were in individuals who were unvaccinated or had only had one dose of the 2-dose schedule. According to the news article, 95 percent of the country’s population were born after the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1964. 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.

    United States of America: Influenza activity rising

    Influenza notifications are on the rise, with the following states/areas reporting high activity: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, New York City and Puerto Rico. As with Europe, influenza A(H3N2) is the dominant strain. A full run-down on activity in all states can be found on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention ‘Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report’ site. 

    Vanuatu: Dengue to linger with rains

    From the latest WHO Pacific syndromic surveillance report: in the 8 weeks until Jan 5th, there were 4,011 suspected dengue fever cases. A separate news site identified the most affected areas: Port Vila and the Efate outer Islands (401 suspected, 76 confirmed), Luganville (93, 12), Lenakel, Tanna (60, 20) and Norsup, Malekula (40,3). Blood samples from suspected cases must be sent to New Zealand for testing. The Ministry of Health expects many more cases over the current rainy season, as mosquito breeding sites flourish. Read more.

    Vietnam: New Zika location; Mosquito control plan extended

    Six cases of Zika virus infection have been detected in Nhơn Trạch District, an area within the rural province of Dong Nai that lies adjacent to Ho Chi Minh City. Read more .
    IN the wake of the release of the 2016 dengue fever figures for the country (106,300 cases with 36 deaths), the decision has been made to extend the roll-out of the Wolbachia control program to other parts of Nha Trang. The initial test area on Tri Nguyen island has been a success, with no dengue outbreaks reported. Wolbachia, a naturally occurring bacterium, can reduce the risk of mosquitoes carrying viruses such as dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika. Read more.

    Zambia: Anthrax in western district

    In the country’s west, 17 people were treated for anthrax after they ate meat from infected animals. Cattle in 5 of the region’s districts are considered at risk of infection and will be vaccinated as part of a control programme. 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

    Zimbabwe: Measures to check typhoid

    Street vendors are now forbidden from selling food in the capital Harare, as the government works to stall the current typhoid outbreak. Read more. And in South Africa, health authorities are on high alert with the increase in movement of people between the 2 countries a factor during the holiday season. Read more

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