Health Alerts
  • Caribbean, Latin America: Zika & chikungunya updates for region

    As advised in the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Zika virus situation report (Nov 10th), 2 new territories have recorded local, sporadic transmission of Zika infection: Montserrat, a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, and Palau, a republic in Micronesia (see separate report). Read the full WHO report here
    Turks and Caicos Islands and British Virgin Islands are now considered to have widespread virus transmission. Read more.  Authorities in the US Virgin Islands have released newly confirmed infection figures: 833 cases, with the highest case numbers coming from St. Thomas (556), St. Croix (139) and St. John (52). Read more
    The California Department of Health has updated its Zika virus travel advisory for residents of the state travelling to Mexico, stating that: ‘Individuals have been infected in popular tourist destinations including Cancun, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, and Mazatlan.’ The advisory also warned visitors to Baja California that while no Zika virus infections have been recorded there, the presence of the Zika vector means that mosquito bite avoidance measures should be used. 
    Other Zika news
    In a report published recently in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), findings from Puerto Rico's Zika outbreak demonstrate that more women (61%) were infected than men in the 20+ years’ age group. While this could be explained by the higher rates of sexual transmission from men to women, it might also be the case that women are more likely than men to seek medical advice for symptomatic infection. Further study is needed to determine how to prevent the spread of Zika virus disease and which age groups to target. Read more
    Chikungunya
    Brazil updated some of its weekly statistics to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) last week by announcing 136,708 new cases – these don’t include data for the past 8 weeks however. Guatemala has also had a recent spike in cases as 496 new cases were reported to the PAHO. 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). 

    Burkina Faso: Capital’s dengue surge

    A dengue fever outbreak in the capital Ouagadougou that has led to the deaths of at least 7 people is behind a recent travel advisory issued by the Turkish government as it encourages its travellers to avoid mosquito bites when in the area. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Don’t get bitten and you won’t get dengue. To avoid biting insects, apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to all exposed skin when outdoors. 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 also cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. 

    China: Human bird flu cases in 2 provinces

    Authorities have announced 2 new H7N9 avian influenza cases: a woman aged 77 who had bought poultry at a wet market in Huzhou, Zhejiang and an 89-year old man from Suzhou in Jiangsu province. Both are in a serious condition in hospital. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: There are several strains of bird flu and while the virus can be fatal, infection generally poses a low risk for travellers – even for those heading to a region where the disease is present or an outbreak is occurring. Travellers should avoid contact with birds or poultry in marketplaces, wash hands thoroughly before and after preparing food, and observe strict personal hygiene. Read more on bird flu and how to avoid it. 

    Ghana: Cholera persists in Central region

    The Cape Coast cholera outbreak is not yet under control as numbers rose from last week’s 157 to over 260 today. No deaths have been recorded but authorities are on the alert, anxious to avoid a repeat of the 2014 epidemic that produced more than 17,000 cases and 150 deaths. 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. For further advice on whether you should consider vaccination for your trip, call Travelvax Australia’s travel health advisory service (1300 360 164). Read more on cholera. 

    India: Malaria count grows in east; Delhi’s disease threats taper; Encephalitis burden grows

    Reports of malaria in the eastern state of Jharkand have increased with several districts advising of cases. Nearly 60,000 malaria infections were recorded to September; almost half of those were due to the more serious falciparum strain. Read more
    COOLER temperatures are finally giving Delhi the edge over the mosquito-borne illnesses that have caused record numbers of infections this year. In the week to Nov 12th, chikungunya cases had dropped to 332 and dengue, 135. Read more
    THE states of Odisha and Uttar Pradesh continue to report cases of Japanese encephalitis; Odisha’s Malkangiri district recorded a further climb in the death toll to 115 over the past 69 days. 

    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: Five states avoid dip in dengue

    While dengue fever case numbers are now on the decline across most parts of the country, the states of Pahang, Johor, Pulau Pinang, Perlis and Kedah bucked the trend by delivering higher figures over the previous 1-week reporting period. Read more.

    Micronesia: Palau now reporting Zika

    The US CDC has issued an advisory for travel to Palau in response to the confirmation of local Zika virus infection. Level 2 ‘enhanced precautions’ are recommended, which includes the use of effective insect repellents and safe sex practices (or abstinence). Read more.

    Philippines: Zika count rises

    A further 10 cases of Zika virus infection were confirmed by the health department this week taking the total to 33. According to a news source, 12 cases have now been recorded in Iloilo province while the remainder occurred in areas of the National Capital Region. Read more.

    Romania: Measles rates still climbing

    The message for US travellers visiting Romania is to ensure vaccinations are current and practice strict personal hygiene as the CDC responds to the spike in measles infections this year – 935 cases including 6 deaths, according to one news source. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Measles is a highly contagious virus that can cause serious illness in people of all ages and it occurs in developing and developed countries. Travelvax Australia recommends travellers check their immunisation status for measles and other routine vaccinations such as tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and mumps at least 6 weeks before departure.

    Saudi Arabia: MERS update - 2 new cases

    The Saudi Ministry of Health has advised of 2 new MERS coronavirus cases diagnosed over the 6 days: both are aged in their 50s - a woman from Afeef who is known to have had high-risk exposures and a man from Tabuk who had recent direct contact with camels. The man is reported to be in a critical condition. Read more.

    Singapore: Dengue, Zika cases on decline

    Only 86 dengue fever cases were reported in the past week which is the 3rd week in a row with numbers sub-100. Of the 10 active clusters, only one is classified as high risk. Read more. New Zika infections were confirmed on only 2 of the last 7 days as the total now sits at 451 with 3 active clusters. Read more on the National Environment Agency Zika website

    Thailand: Zika spread confirmed

    Confirmation of another 33 Zika virus cases, and spread to 2 more provinces, has been announced by the health ministry this week. This takes the year’s total number of cases to 680. There is concern however for the potential for further spread as large numbers of people travel to the capital to pay their respects following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in mid-October. Read more

    Uganda: High Hep B prevalence

    Vaccination campaigns are planned in response to the high rates of hepatitis B in the Central region (Sembabule district) after recent testing in the community showed this to be as high as 21 percent. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Vaccination is the mainstay of prevention and the full course of 3 doses (at least 2 prior to travel) provides highly protective antibody levels lasting at least 20 years – life-long for most. At least 2 shots are needed for travel. (Intending travellers can get effective protection in as little as 3 weeks through a shortened hepatitis B immunisation schedule.) A combined Hep A-B vaccine is also available. Read more about hepatitis B, the vaccine, and schedules. 

    United States of America: Zika persists in 2 Florida locations

    Zika virus infections continue to rise in Florida, with an increase of 11 over last week’s figures. Little River in Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach are the focal points of investigations into the sources of infection as authorities persist with measures aimed at eradicating the mosquito vector in these areas. Read more.

    Vietnam: More HCMC districts reporting Zika

    Thirteen of Ho Chi Minh City’s 24 districts have now reported Zika virus infections according to the update issued by the city’s deputy director of the Department of Health. The total now stands at 38. Read more.

    Yemen: Cholera outbreaks concern WHO

    The escalating cholera outbreak is now affecting 11 of the country’s 15 governorates as the WHO announced this week that suspected cases have spiralled to 4,000 – a 2-fold increase over the previous 12 days. The greatest concern is for the south-west region that takes in the provinces of Ta'izz and Aden. Read more.

  • Australia: Measles spike for SA

    South Australia has recorded 12 measles cases this year and the state health department is warning that the infection is spreading in Gawler with 6 recent cases. The department’s website gives details of where the latest cases had visited while infectious and advises all those in the area to be aware of symptoms and ensure their MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations are current. 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. 

    Brazil: Monkey deaths signal fever risk

    The Epidemiological Surveillance Group of São Paulo’s Secretariat of Health has issued a warning to travellers to the São José do Rio Preto region in the state’s north, in response to the confirmation of increased circulation of the yellow fever virus in monkeys. New World monkey species are the virus’ primary reservoir in Brazil and the virus can be passed on to humans if a mosquito bites an infected monkey and then a human. The health department is ensuring that susceptible people in the local population have been vaccinated and is advising visitors to be vaccinated also. 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

    Caribbean, Latin America: Zika, chikungunya updates

    Public Health England publishes a list of countries with current or past Zika virus activity and has categorised them into high, moderate, low and very low risk for the benefit of travellers planning their itineraries . 
    Chikungunya
    Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Bolivia, and Colombia have contributed the most new confirmed or suspected cases over the past week, producing the majority of the 440 cases as advised in the Pan American Health Organization’s Nov 4th update. Read more  
    In a Nov 2nd update report from the WHO/PAHO, the latest data shows that chikungunya case numbers this year are higher than for the same period last year and there has been spread of the virus to new regions. 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). 

    Ghana: Cholera spreading in Cape Coast

    Six of the 26 districts of the Central region have now reported cholera in a broadening of the outbreak reported last week. To Nov 6th, there had been 172 cases recorded and no fatalities with Cape Coast Metropolitan and nearby surrounding areas most affected. 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

    Haiti: Vax campaign for SW

    Organisations including the WHO, PAHO, UNICEF and GAVI Alliance will vaccinate 800,000 people against cholera in the areas of Sud and Grand’Anse, hardest hit by the recent hurricane. Nearly 3,500 suspected cholera cases have been reported in the areas during October. Read more.

    India: Cooler temps bring relief to some

    A drop in temperature has not offered the expected relief from dengue fever in Rudrapur (Uttarakhand), which makes up part of the Terai region that stretches into Nepal. Local doctors remain vigilant for more cases during a season when they would not normally be seen. Read more. Uttarakhand’s capital, Dehadrun, has recorded the state’s highest dengue fever rates – a 3-year high of 1,386 cases. Read more. In Telangana, Hyderabad council’s chief entomologist believes that the city’s current dengue fever and chikungunya spike will settle from the beginning of next month. Read more. After a horror year for dengue and chikungunya infections, the state of Maharashtra is finally getting a reprieve from mosquito-borne illnesses. Fewer than 400 dengue cases were reported in Mumbai the in the first 7 days of November, compared with 4,000 in the previous month. Read more. Delhi has also seen a decline in chikungunya cases in the week to Nov 7th – 342 cases were recorded taking the annual figure to 11,193, a 10-year high. Read more.

    Micronesia: Emergency declared on dengue, Zika

    Since the first Zika case was identified in Kosrae in mid-March this year, 157 people with typical symptoms of Zika virus have been tested and 22 infections have been confirmed. Read more. The routine testing of pregnant women for Zika virus has revealed most of Kosrae’s 6 confirmed cases of dengue fever – 58 other cases are still being investigated. The governor has declared a public health emergency in response to the mosquito-borne diseases affecting the state. Read more

    Myanmar: Two regions hit hard by dengue

    Children under 15 and people living in Mandalay and Yangon have made up the highest number of dengue infections this year, as the country recorded nearly 8,000 cases and 43 deaths until October. Read more.

    Nepal: Dengue threat not over yet

    Doctors are encouraging residents and visitors in Chitwan to maintain mosquito bite avoidance measures despite a slight drop in the incidence of dengue since the beginning of November. Ratnanagar Municipality has been hardest hit, with 519 infections diagnosed since mid-August. Read more. Meanwhile in Damak in the south-eastern district of Jhapa, a local doctor has revealed that 8-10 new dengue patients are arriving at hospital each day as the infection spreads ‘in epidemic proportion.’ Read more.

    Nigeria: Malaria spikes in NW

    Parts of Sokoto state in the country’s northwest are reporting high numbers of malaria cases – around 2,000 people have received treatment in the past 8 days. Many of the cases were classified as severe. Read more. Just across the border in Niger, Madaoua health district saw a doubling of malaria cases over the same 1-week period of October compared to 2015 (6,695 c/w 3,901). Read more.

    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.

    Pakistan: Children bear brunt of vax-preventable diseases

    News reports from Bannu, in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have announced the deaths of 27 children from diphtheria over the past few weeks. Hospitals have been unable to source supplies of the necessary vaccines for children arriving in the area from nearby war-torn regions. Read more
    ALSO in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, an infant girl has become the 9th polio case for the year. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Polio is a potentially serious viral illness that is spread through contact with infected faeces or saliva. The risk to travellers is generally low. Vaccination is recommended for travel to affected regions. Temporary recommendations to limit the spread of polio have been instituted by the WHO. More on polio

    Singapore: Dengue, Zika review

    This week’s dengue case count is slightly higher than last week, as a further 86 new infections were diagnosed bringing the annual total to 12,574. Of the active clusters, 2 that are located in the Yishun residential district in the island’s north are classified as high risk. Read more. There has been an increase of 5 in the total of Zika cases over the past week, taking the figure to 449. Active clusters as advised on the National Environment Agency website are located in the island's south-east. Read more.

    Solomon Islands: Aid to beat dengue

    Humanitarian aid is under way in the island group to tackle the growing dengue fever outbreak that started 4 weeks ago and has now affected Honiara city, Guadalcanal, Malaita, Isabel and Choiseul provinces. There has been 1 death from dengue-related causes and over 1,700 people have been infected. Read more.

    South Sudan: Cholera strikes central state

    Two payams (districts) of Unity state’s Payinjiar county have been struck with cholera outbreaks that have so far led to 2 deaths and at least 30 admissions to treatment centres. Local doctors are calling for humanitarian relief as medical supplies are in short supply. Read more.

    United States of America: Arkansas mumps spreads further; Florida Zika cases rise

    Of the 1,140 confirmed or suspected mumps cases in NW Arkansas to date, the 5 to 17 years age group has been hardest hit (762 cases), according to the Nov 8th health department update.
    IN order to adhere to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) updated case definition for Zika virus infection, there has been a marked increase in the case count as reported in the Florida Dept of Health Zika website. Added to this, a further 7 locally-acquired cases have brought the total to 217 as of today. This week cases were reported in residents of Little River (8kms north of Downtown Miami) and Miami-Dade County. A further case does not reside in Florida; investigations are under way to determine where each person contracted the virus. Read more.

  • Angola: Yellow fever update

    The World Health Organization (WHO) yellow fever situation report dated Oct 28th revealed details of 2 new likely cases from Kwanza Sul province over the past week and updated information on the 14 probable cases reported in the month up to Oct 13th. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a new sylvatic case was reported from Sud Ubangui province; the previously identified suspected cases from Kinshasa, Kwango and the provinces of Bas Uele, Kwilu, and Lualaba remain under investigation. 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

    Australia: Flu on decline; Imported measles in west

    The peak of the flu season passed in early September and for the most part, infections are on the decline. One exception noted in data up to Oct 14th was northern areas of the NT. Influenza A(H3N2) – covered in the 2016 vaccine - has been the predominant strain. The WHO update on global flu dated Oct 31st indicated increases in flu activity in Thailand, Laos, Cuba, French Guiana and Costa Rica. Read more
    TWO recent imported measles cases have set West Australian health authorities on alert – both had visited numerous locations in Perth while infectious. One of the travellers had become infected while in Indonesia while the other had been to Japan (via Singapore). 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. 

    Caribbean, Latin America: Zika, chikungunya updates

    Brazilian health authorities believe immunity from previous Zika infection in large numbers of the population, together with mosquito abatement measures, will help to avert another wave of illnesses during the coming summer months. The potential for new outbreaks remains however in areas with no or little previous exposure – and for other mosquito-borne infections such as dengue fever and chikungunya. Read more
    Colombia’s reporting of its Zika virus endemic phase continues: last week a further 176 suspected cases were recorded with women and the 30 to 64 years of age cohorts most affected. Read more
    The first cases of microcephaly have been reported in Bolivia as authorities warn that the virus will remain a health concern for the lowland states for some time. Read more
    The European Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (ECDC) Rapid Risk Assessment on Zika virus dated Oct 28th notes that the pace of infections is slowing in some areas (Caribbean & Central America) but not in others (Mexico, southern US). 
    Chikungunya
    Peru, Cost Rica, and Colombia reported the largest increases in cases according to the Pan American Health Organization’s latest update; however many countries have not provided new data for some time. The total number of confirmed, suspected, and imported cases across the region this year has reached 303,107. 

    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: West Nile still in the news

    West Nile virus infections continue to be reported in parts of Europe. The ECDC summary for the week ending Oct 28th published details of new infections in Italy, Hungary, Egypt, Serbia and Israel. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Most human WNV infections (70-80%) are mild, subclinical or asymptomatic, but around 1-in-150 cases involve potentially severe neuroinvasive disease. The virus is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes, which feed mainly around dawn and dusk. While the risk of infection for most travellers is generally low, those visiting regions reporting human cases, particularly the peak transmission season, should take measures to avoid mosquito bites

    Ghana: Cholera in Cape Coast; Rabies hike in Ashanti

    In the southern regional capital of Cape Coast more than 157 people have been hospitalised for treatment of cholera infection. Read more.
    THE 2015 official figures for human rabies exposure in Ashanti have been released and they show an increase of nearly 300 over the previous year: 1,000 (including 15 deaths) compared with 704 in 2014. These numbers don’t include the many unreported cases. 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: No let-up in mosquito-borne illnesses

    Dengue fever reporting shows no sign of declining in Khammam, Telangana; Kolkata, West Bengal; Karimnagar, Andhra Pradesh; Kochi, Kerala; Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh and Ludhiana, Punjab. And in Delhi, as chikungunya rates are on the decline after causing over 8,700 infections this season, dengue fever is on the rise again. Read more.  The city is also having to deal with hazardous levels of smog. Read more.There’s been conflicting information on the Japanaese encephalitis outbreak occurring in the state of Odisha: One news source has quoted a Collector (Chief Magistrate) of Malkangiri district as saying the death toll due to Japanese encephalitis (JE) is 24 of the 91 children infected, which is lower than previous reports of 84 deaths. Read more. Other regions reporting JE cases include Koraput, Odisha and Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.

    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

    Nepal: Dengue lingers in south, Pokhara case

    The districts of Bardiya and Banke in the country’s south-east and Makwanpur, south of Kathmandu, have reported dengue fever cases over the past week. A further case was identified in the popular tourist area of Pokhara, but the man had travelled to India on a frequent basis and the news source did not state where he contracted the virus. Read more

    Pakistan: Twin city dengue scourge

    There has been no let-up in the dengue fever outbreak hitting the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi despite an improvement in the weather. More than 400 cases have been confirmed in the last week, taking the case count to 2,601. Read more.

    Romania: Measles toll nears 1,000

    Health authorities have announced a further 150 measles cases over the past month, bringing the annual total to 935. Five deaths have resulted to date. The infections have spread over 30 counties - worst affected are Arad, Mures, Bistrita, Timis and Cluj. Read more.

    Solomon Islands: Dengue fever outbreak extends

    The dengue fever outbreak that started in August this year has hit the east and central parts of the country the hardest – up to Oct 16th, the capital Honiara reported 983 cases while Guadalcanal province recorded 161, Malaita province 67 and one in Isabel province. Males and females have been equally affected and more infections have been seen in the under 15 years and 25-49 years age groups. Read more.

    Saudi Arabia: MERS update - 1 new case

    Another MERS case has been diagnosed and admitted to hospital in a critical condition, adding to the 6 already under treatment. The most recent case is a 41-year-old man from Buraydah, north-west of Riyadh who had direct exposure to the virus. Read more.  A WHO update of the cases reported between Sept 15 & Oct 10th can be found here

    Singapore: Dengue fever, Zika virus status

    Two high-risk dengue clusters with 10 or more cases are noted on the National Environment’s webpage as the annual case count approaches 12,500.   Data relating to Zika virus infections shows 3 known active clusters that have produced cases over the past 2 weeks – the total number of cases for the island-state stands at 444. Read more.

    Taiwan: Early flu uptick

    Health authorities are advising people to get their flu vaccinations soon as the peak of the season arrived earlier than expected. Usually late November is when flu activity increases, but last week alone nearly 55,000 people sought medical assistance for flu symptoms. Read more.

    United States of America: Arkansas mumps persists; Florida Zika cases rise again; Aftermath of Hawaii’s hep A

    THERE has been no respite in the mumps outbreak that has been ongoing in NW Arkansas for several weeks. Children from Huntsville, Rogers, and Springdale School Districts have been most affected; the total is now 856 confirmed or suspected cases. Read more
    ANOTHER 15 locally-acquired Zika virus cases have been recorded in Florida over the past 7 days as investigations continue into the limited areas of active transmission. The health department website notes details and maps of those areas under investigation. Read more
    A FURTHER note on the hepatitis A outbreak that produced over 290 infections in Hawaii (from June 2016) caused by frozen scallops served raw in sushi: a woman in her 60s has died of liver failure brought on by the hepatitis A virus contracted during the outbreak. According to the health department website, overall 79 people required hospitalisation. The case fatality rate for hepatitis A increases with age – up to 2 percent over 40 years of age. 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: Sudden rise in Zika cases

    The latest case count for Zika infections has reached 23, of which 17 are in Ho Chi Minh City. This is the peak season for the Aedes mosquito, the vector of Zika but also dengue fever. Other provinces that have reported Zika cases are (Central) Dak Lak, Khanh Hoa, Phu Yen and (Mekong Delta) Binh Duong, Long An and Tra Vinh. Read more.