Health Alerts
  • Caribbean, Latin America: Latest on Zika & chikungunya

    Zika
    According to the latest weekly update issued on Sept 29th by the World Health Organization (WHO) & Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), across the region there had been an increase of over 26,000 confirmed and 2,991suspected Zika infections. Read update here.
    Chikungunya
    A total of 532 new suspected or confirmed chikungunya cases were reported to the PAHO last week; however many countries did not submit an update. Guatemala had the highest number (210 cases) followed by Costa Rica (107) and Colombia, Ecuador, and El Salvador. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Epidemics of the Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses continue undiminished in the Americas and Caribbean. Generally milder than dengue and chikungunya, Zika’s symptoms last 4-7 days and include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis. With the apparent exception of pregnant women, long-term ill-effects are rare, although joint pain may linger for weeks – even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite aggressively by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the mosquitoes’ main feeding time. 

    China: Summer heat triggers outbreaks

    Warm summer temperatures in Hong Kong have brought an increase in the incidence of Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD) and acute gastroenteritis. Read more.

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

    India: Battle against insect-borne illness continues; Fish poisons 100

    In Delhi, a train equipped with a tank carrying insecticide is being used to treat the mosquito breeding grounds alongside the tracks – it’s called the Mosquito Terminator. This is just one measure used to combat the rising numbers of chikungunya cases in the city. On a more positive note, dengue cases are down on last year's numbers. Read more. The state of Karnataka has the highest chikungunya count in the country. 
    Other cities and regions reporting dengue outbreaks again this week: Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra state); the death toll in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) is 148, Agra also affected; Ludhiana (Punjab); a dengue alert has been issued in Imphal (Manipur).  
    There has been a sudden spike in Japanese encephalitis cases over the past 3 weeks in Malkangiri district (Odisha state), all affecting young children. News reports quote the death toll as 24, with 4 of those deaths over a recent 5-day period. Read more
    FOR the first time ciguatera, a marine toxin poisoning, has been detected in India after 100 people in Mangaluru (Karnataka) became ill after eating fish heads that were sourced locally. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Many large reef fish have been implicated in ciguatera fish poisoning. A species that is ciguatoxic in one area may be safe in another. If in doubt, avoid eating large fish caught off reefs. Read more about ciguatera fish poisoning.

    Japan: Leptospirosis from river swim

    Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that is endemic in Okinawa, has struck 11 people who bathed in the Okuma River near the village of Kunigami. A total of 30 cases have been identified this year in the prefecture, 21 of those in the north. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals, typically rats. The bacterium enters the body through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth, as well as through broken skin. Outbreaks are typically associated with exposure to floodwaters, making leptospirosis a low risk for most travellers. Read more about leptospirosis

    Malaysia: Sabah reports new Zika case; Gastro hits resort town

    A total of 7 Zika cases have been reported since the start of the current outbreak - the most recent is a woman from Kota Kinabalu and she becomes the second reported in Sabah. Read more
    AT least 46 cases of acute gastroenteritis have been identified from an outbreak at a resort on a large freshwater lake north of Kuala Lumpur - 19 were caused by a rotavirus. Read more.

    Maldives: Testing for Zika starts

    All patients with fever arriving at a major hospital in the capital Malé are being tested for Zika virus as health agencies attempt to determine if the virus is still circulating – earlier this year 2 European tourists were diagnosed with Zika infection on their return from the islands. Read more

    Myanmar: Dengue total climbs to over 7,000

    Three regions have borne the brunt of the dengue fever season this year - Mandalay (1,076 cases) Yangon (995) and Ayeyawady (829) from a nation-wide total of 7,320 including 40 deaths. Read more.

    Nepal: Sand flies strike Morang; Chitwan reports dengue, scrub typhus

    In the eastern Terai region of Morang, kala-azar (visceral leishmaniasis) has struck at least 7 people. Authorities have initiated insecticide spraying to reduce numbers of the female sand fly vector. Read more.  
    CHITWAN is suffering a dengue outbreak with 66 confirmed cases and many more people with fever still to be tested. Doctors have been sent to the region to deal with the spike in cases. Read more
    AS authorities try to stem the number of scrub typhus cases that has also affected the lowland Chitwan region – 189 recent cases – checks on mice revealed over 70 percent carried the mite ‘vectors’. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Leishmaniasis is generally a low risk for travellers. Endemic in Nepal, the parasitic disease is 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. The former causes skin ulcers and the latter a severe systemic disease that is usually fatal without treatment. Along with India, Bangladesh, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Brazil, Nepal account for 90% of visceral leishmaniasis. A similar percentage of cutaneous leishmaniasis cases occur in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, as well as the South American countries of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. There is no vaccine or preventative medication: avoiding infection relies on minimising sand fly bites. Read more on the disease and prevention.

    Pakistan: Dengue cases mounting

    Dengue fever cases in Rawalpindi have climbed to 450 and testing is underway to determine how many of the 4 dengue strains are circulating. Read more.

    Romania: WNV count at 80

    West Nile virus (WNV) infections reported for the season May to the end of September: 80 infections and 8 deaths, with Braila (17 cases), Bucharest (16), Galati (8) and Ilfov (6) most affected. 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

    Singapore: Zika, dengue updates; Vax approval given

    Updated Zika case numbers take the overall tally to 400 since the beginning of the outbreak. Of the 3 clusters still under surveillance only one has produced any cases over the past 2 weeks. Read more. Meanwhile dengue numbers are declining, with 135 cases reported over the week – the lowest weekly count this year. Six of the active dengue clusters are considered high risk. Read more
    THE Health Sciences Authority has approved the use of the dengue fever vaccine, Dengvaxia, and it is likely to be available in the next few months. Singapore joins 10 other dengue-endemic countries in licensing the vaccine. Read more.

    Thailand: More Zika cases confirmed

    Health authorities updated the Zika case count on Oct 5th, announcing that a total of nearly 400 infections have been detected across the country. Read more.

    United States of America: More mozzies found in Miami Beach; Hawai’i alert for triathlon

    This week the total of locally-acquired Zika cases in Florida is 141, as a further 3 cases infected in the Miami Beach area were added yesterday. Additionally, non-residents of Florida infected while in the state now number 17. Causing concern to health agencies is that, despite extensive insecticide fogging which has been carried out over the past few weeks, the mosquito that can carry the virus is still being trapped in parts of Miami Beach. Read more
    VISITORS to Kailua-Kona on the island of Hawai’i are being urged to take measures to avoid mosquito bites as people from across the globe arrive for the 2016 IRONMAN World Championship triathlon on October 8th. There are no current outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases in the area and measures have been taken to eliminate the insect's breeding grounds. Read more.

    Venezuela: Diphtheria makes its return

    A local Spanish language news source has reported on the re-emergence of diphtheria in the country, with the announcement of 22 cases, all but one in the state of Bolivar. Diphtheria was believed to have been eradicated 24 years ago in Venezuela. Read more

    Vietnam: Rabies vax drive

    Pet owners are being encouraged to vaccinate their animals as authorities try to reduce the number of people dying from rabies infections. Up to the end of September, 49 deaths were recorded across 20 provinces. 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

  • Bangladesh: Anthrax surfaces in north-east

    In the village of Makranda, in the country’s north-east, at least 20 people have contracted anthrax after consuming tainted buffalo meat. 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

    Caribbean, Latin America: Zika, chikungunya updates

    Zika outbreak news
    Mexican health authorities have updated the country’s Zika figures which indicate the highest rates to be in the state of Veracruz, followed by Guerrero, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Colima and the Yucatan. Over the past week 253 new infections were recorded. Read more in a Flutrackers report
    The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) update on Zika transmission in European Union territories indicates a stabilising of new case numbers. Reports for the week up till Sept 22nd: Martinique (36,260 suspected cases/ 160 over the week); French Guiana (9,740/77); Guadeloupe (3,130/290); St Barthélemy (725/55) and St Martin (2,350/85). Read more
    The Cayman Islands have now recorded 17 Zika cases contracted locally – all live in George Town, however not in neighbouring locales of the capital. Read more
    Fourteen Zika cases have been diagnosed on the island of New Providence in The Bahamas; however the press release issued by the Dept. of Health does not indicate how many were acquired locally. Read more
    Belize has reported 341 suspected Zika cases and of those, 42 have been confirmed – Belize City, Belize District, Cayo District, and Toledo and Stann Creek in the southern districts have been most affected. Read more
    Other Zika news
    The US Dept of Health & Human Services has given financial support to Sanofi Pasteur to continue its efforts, in collaboration with U.S. Department Of Defense's Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, in developing a vaccine for the Zika virus. Further trials on the candidate vaccine are due in 2018. Read more
    A unit of the US National Institutes of Health has developed a Zika vaccine and is about to conduct phase one clinical trials in the USA. Read more
    Chikungunya
    It has been 5 weeks since Brazil updated its figures and in that time there have been a further 46,446 cases; Guatemala was next highest with 1,214. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Epidemics of the Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses continue undiminished in the Americas and Caribbean. Generally milder than dengue and chikungunya, Zika’s symptoms last 4-7 days and include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis. With the apparent exception of pregnant women, long-term ill-effects are rare, although joint pain may linger for weeks – even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite aggressively by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the mosquitoes’ main feeding time. 

    Central African Republic: Monkeypox in 2 provinces

    An outbreak of monkeypox has hit the provinces of Haute-Kotto and Basse-Kotto, killing at least 10 people to date. Read more.  The virus that causes monkeypox is closely related to the smallpox virus; rodents are the suspected reservoir, with monkeys and humans as secondary or ‘spill-over’ hosts. People can be infected by eating undercooked ‘bushmeat’ or handling infected animals, making infection a low risk for travellers. Read more on monkeypox

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Suspected YF cases trigger vax campaign

    Reactive vaccination campaigns are planned as authorities investigate 12 suspected yellow fever cases – the 9 most recent are from the provinces of Kinshasa (8 cases) and Tshuapa (1). Read the Sept 23 WHO situation report here

    India: Updates on insect-borne diseases

    There has been no let-up in the disease burden inflicted during the current monsoon season. Near-record dengue fever cases in Amritsar (Punjab) may be due to heightened surveillance and reporting.  A spike in dengue has been seen in the tricity area of Chandigarh, Mohali & Panchkula. In Hyderabad (Telangana), recent heavy rains have given rise to large areas of standing water, ideal mosquito-breeding grounds. Just under 20 percent of all dengue patients in Mumbai (Maharashtra) are under 15 years of age and affluent areas of the city have not been spared. Read more. Other cities reporting outbreaks are: Kolkata & Serampore (West Bengal), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Ahmedabad (Gujarat) and Dehradun (Uttarakhand).  
    Chikungunya case numbers over the last week are twice the dengue figures in Delhi. The city recorded 1,070 chikungunya cases last week, taking the annual total to 3,695. Read more
    At least 700 people in the state of Himachal have been struck by Scrub typhus and 20 have died of the infection. Cases have also been diagnosed in Delhi
    Flutrackers has reported on Japanese encephalitis cases in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha. 
    A sudden increase in malaria cases has hit the satellite city of Gurgaon in the state of Haryana as well as the district of Mewat to its south.  

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

    Nepal: Saptari’s cholera source unknown; Dual mozzie threat for Kathmandu valley

    The source of an outbreak of diarrhoeal illness in the district of Saptari is still to be determined - least 74 people have been treated so far. Cholera bacteria have been found in some samples sent for analysis. Read more
    DENGUE and chikungunya have struck parts of Kathmandu Valley – one of the chikungunya cases was diagnosed in a Kathmandu resident. The country’s Epidemiology and Disease Control Division has reported substantial infestations of mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus in Kathmandu Valley. 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

    Pakistan: Twin cities’ dengue

    Three local government areas of Islamabad - Sohan, Tarlai and Rawat – have reported a sharp increase in dengue fever cases over the past 2 weeks. Read more.

    Philippines: Central Visayas dengue spike, more Zika

    Insecticide fogging is being carried out in parts of Central Visayas as dengue fever case numbers climb to 14,846, well in excess of the 2015 total of 6,420 cases. Deaths have also increased – 125 so far this year, 67 in Cebu. Read more. A further 3 Zika cases were reported this week from Iloilo City and the town of Oton. Read more.   

    Romania: WNV regional update

    In the Sept 23rd West Nile virus update from the European Centre for Disease Protection & Control (ECDC), 38 cases overall were reported from Hungary, Italy and Romania over the previous week; an additional 24 cases were notified in neighbouring countries (Israel, Russia & Serbia). Read details in ECDC update

    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

    Singapore: Dengue, Zika numbers still rising

    The week, 7 of the 35 active dengue clusters are considered high risk and the yearly case count (11,964 to date) has now exceeded the entire total for 2015 (11,286) - 7 people have died of dengue this year, compared with only 4 last year. Read more. A total of 408 confirmed Zika cases have now been reported since the outbreak began – one of the earliest clusters has been closed but another 8 are still being monitored. Read more.

    Sri Lanka: Dengue surges in west

    Information on the incidence of dengue fever provided by the Epidemiology Unit of the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health identifies a total of over 41,000 cases, with over half of these from the Western Province. Read more.

    Tanzania: Rabies threat in safari country

    As World Rabies Day approached (Sept 28th), health authorities called for neutering of the numerous stray dogs, with particular emphasis on those living in the region of Arusha, the ‘safari’ capital of the country’s north. In the past 6 months, over 100 dog bites were reported in Arusha; however the neighbouring districts of Longido and Monduli, which lie between Arusha and Ngorongoro Conservation Area, had the highest numbers – 140 and 120 respectively. 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

    United States of America: Zika cases persist, now dengue

    The latest news from the Florida Health Department puts the state’s Zika total at 115 – an increase of 25 over the past week. Thirteen cases have also been reported in people who were infected while visiting Florida from out of state. Read details in the latest daily update.  The US CDC has announced that the transmission of Zika has been interrupted in the Wynwood area of Miami following aerial insecticide spraying. Read more. As Florida is still dealing with locally acquired Zika cases, the first dengue fever case for the year has been reported in one of the Zika-affected counties: Miami-Dade. Read more

  • Australia: Imported measles spreads further

    The South Australian Health Department has advised of 2 measles cases, both of which are probable community contacts of an imported case in a traveller returning from Southeast Asia. The department’s website lists those places where others may also have been exposed to the virus during the height of the infectious period. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Easily preventable through vaccination, measles is a highly contagious disease that can cause serious illness in people of all ages. Many cases reported in Australia are linked to overseas travel to both developing and developed countries. Travelvax Australia recommends travellers check their status for these and other routine childhood immunisations, such as diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) 6 weeks before departure.

    Caribbean, Latin America: Zika & chikungunya updates

    Zika outbreak news
    A news source quotes St Kitts-Nevis Health Ministry in announcing ‘the Federation’s first confirmed cases of ZIKA in the local population.’ The 3 positive samples were taken at the end of August but confirmation has been delayed due to the high demand for laboratory services in the region.
    The US Virgin islands have recorded 19 additional Zika cases over the past week, taking the year’s total to 365 cases. Numbers have been rising for 2 months and authorities are hoping that the peak of the outbreak is approaching. The island of St Thomas is most affected (300 cases overall) followed by St Criox (52 cases). Read more 
    Government agencies in Costa Rica have released recent Zika infection numbers which identify as many as 18,000 locally acquired cases. Dengue and chikungunya rates also remain high. Read more (translate from Spanish) 
    Zika numbers are on the decline in the Dominican Republic, but dengue fever is maintaining a presence in the country: 5,879 suspected cases and 30 deaths so far this year. Read more (translate from Spanish) 
    Other Zika news
    The journal, Lancet Infectious Diseases, has documented a suspected case of sexual transmission of Zika virus from a vasectomised man to a woman in February this year. The infection was contracted by the man while on holidays in the Maldives. Read more 
    Chikungunya
    From information published in a Brazilian Ministry of Health bulletin covering chikungunya cases and chikungunya-related deaths, the states of Pernambaco, Rio Grande do Norte have fared the worst, followed by Paraiba, Ceará, Rio de Janeiro, Bay, Alagoas, Maranhao and Sao Paulo. Overall, suspected cases increased in the first 8 months of the year by 463 percent over last year’s figures for the same period. Read more (translate from Portuguese) 
    Researchers studying chikungunya cases in Haiti early last year observed a strain of another mosquito-borne virus, Mayaro, which has previously been limited to South America. Its symptoms include joint pains, malaise and fever, but unlike chikungunya & Zika, stomach problems are experienced. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Epidemics of the Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses continue undiminished in the Americas and Caribbean. Generally milder than dengue and chikungunya, Zika’s symptoms last 4-7 days and include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis. With the apparent exception of pregnant women, long-term ill-effects are rare, although joint pain may linger for weeks – even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite aggressively by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the mosquitoes’ main feeding time. 

    China: Further local dengue case in Hong Kong; Measles-free declaration

    A fourth case of dengue fever that was acquired in Hong Kong is being investigated by health authorities – the 59-year-old woman who lives in Wong Tai Sin and works in Kowloon City has been released from hospital and her contacts are being monitored. Read more
    THE World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that Hong Kong is now free of endemic measles, joining 6 countries of the Western Pacific region (Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Japan, Macao and South Korea) in achieving the goal. The declaration of measles-free status is granted after at least 36 months of interrupted virus transmission. Read more.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Gastro illness leaves 35 dead

    The governor of the eastern province of Maniema has declared an outbreak of diarrhoea in 6 health zones. To date, 335 people are known to be affected and 35 have died as a result. The cause is said to be related to the quality of drinking water and lack of hygiene. Read more (translate from French) 

    India: Mosquito-driven outbreaks prevail

    News reports of mosquito-borne diseases stream in from across the country: Haryana; Mumbai & Aurangabad in Maharashtra state; Uttar Pradesh; Dehra Dun, the holy city of Haridwar & the hill station of Nainita, Uttarakhand; Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh; Bengaluru, Karnataka and Durg, Chhattisgarh. In Amritsar (Punjab), disease reports appear to be on the decline, but in Goa some medical facilities and doctors in the region of the port city of Vasco da Gama are advising of a rise in dengue cases, contrary to the government’s advice. Chikungunya cases in Delhi have risen by 150 percent over previous reports. Both Japanese encephalitis and malaria cases are on the increase in Jamshedpur (Jharkhand state). In an aside, Japanese encephalitis is now a notifiable disease in India, a move which it is hoped will lead to a reduction in cases. Read more.  
    In Chennai, doctors have had to debunk a social media posting promoting the use of coconut oil in deterring the mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever. The same posting claimed that the insect will only bite below the knee as it is unable to fly higher. Read more.

    Japan: Ongoing measles threat

    The measles outbreak that started at the end of August has now affected 115 people, many of whom work at Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture. Other areas reporting associated cases are Hyogo and Chiba Prefectures and Tokyo. Read more.

    Malaysia: Marginal drop in dengue rates

    Health officials were able to report a general downturn in dengue fever cases and deaths so far this year compared to the same period last year; however the toll is still high - 78,077 cases (85,488 in 2015) and 176 deaths ( 234). Those states reporting recent high dengue activity are Johor, Sabah, Negri Sembilan, Perak, Perlis, Sarawak and Federal Territory Labuan. Read more.

    Pakistan: Diphtheria strikes village children

    Five children from the village of Kul (Punjab province) have died of diphtheria over the past 2 weeks and another 12 are seriously ill in a Lahore hospital. Read more.

    Philippines: Zika count rising

    Health authorities have announced that the country has recorded 9 locally acquired Zika cases this year; six of those are recent. Of the 9, seven are from loilo City in Western Visayas, 1 from Cebu City in Central Visayas and the last is from Laguna province in Calabarzon. The government is using the 4S strategy that was put in place in the past to tackle dengue fever: ‘Search & destroy mosquito breeding places, use Self-protection measures, Seek early consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days, and Say yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak.’ Read more.

    Romania: Measles spike

    According to a news report, measles case numbers have rocketed this year, largely blamed on an anti-vaccination movement in the country. Last year there were 7 measles cases and no deaths recorded, but this year there have been 675 cases and at least 2 deaths from the highly infectious viral illness. Read more.

    Singapore: New Zika transmission area; Regional co-operation decision

    As the total of local Zika infections climbs to 383, the National Environment Agency has released details of the last 3 cases, none of which came from any of the previously identified clusters. The original cluster in the Aljunied/Sims Drive area has produced the most cases to date – 286. Read more. The agency has also advised that numbers of the dengue and Zika vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, are rising so the risk for both infections is still high. Despite this, there has been a slight downturn in dengue cases over the past 2 weeks. Read more 
    THE health ministers of ASEAN countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand & Vietnam) have issued a statement outlining their proposed efforts to tackle Zika virus infections in the region. Their plans are to strengthen disease surveillance, increase vector control measures, improve lab testing and the sharing of new research, knowledge and best practices. Read ASEAN statement

    South Africa: Regional flu report

    The latest WHO global influenza update confirms the flu season in southern Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa & Swaziland) continues unabated, with ‘co-circulation of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and B viruses’. The same report covers South America and identifies elevated flu levels in Chile and high reports of influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infections in Argentina. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The 2016 flu season is underway in the southern hemisphere and Travelvax Australia recommends vaccination for all travellers over 6 months. Seasonal flu is the most common vaccine-preventable travel-related illness, posing a risk aboard aircraft, in crowded airport terminals, and at your destination. Travellers should also avoid close contact with people showing flu-like symptoms, and thoroughly washing hands using soap and water after using the toilet and before eating. Alcohol wipes are a convenient alternative if soap and water is not available. 

    Sudan: Blue Nile state cholera

    There have been calls to declare a cholera epidemic in the southern state of Blue Nile, bordering Ethiopia and South Sudan as official case numbers rise to 614. Other sources claim that more than 100 people have died from cholera in the area. 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.

    Taiwan: Dengue in wake of Malakas

    Five dengue fever cases that were not associated with travel outside the country have been identified in Taiwan since the beginning of summer. The most recent announced by the CDC on September 18th was a young man from Tainan City. In the wake of heavy rainfall that hit the country from typhoon Malakas, authorities are urging the public to remove potential mosquito breeding sites from their neighbourhoods and report dengue symptoms promptly. Read more.

    Turkey: Rabies in south

    Over 100 people are receiving rabies exposure treatments in Osmaniye state and the entire town of Ellek is in quarantine after a spate of attacks from rabid dogs. 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. Generally, the risk of rabies for most short-stay travellers is low. Vaccination recommendations are itinerary-specific but include those travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas. Read more on rabies

    United States of America: Zika news from Florida; CDC issues West Nile update

    Health authorities in Florida have advised of a further 4 Zika cases in Miami-Dade County, taking the total of locally-acquired infections to 89. A further 10 cases live outside Florida but were infected while visiting the state. Read more.The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has eased its health advisory for people living in Wynwood, the area first affected by local transmission of Zika virus. Insecticide fogging and thorough investigation of cases has lowered the threat; however caution is still advised. Read more.
    WEST Nile virus (WNV) season continues during the warmer months – in the latest CDC update, 39 states and one district reporting 40+ cases are: Texas, South Dakota, California, Colorado, Nebraska and Arizona. Read more from the CDC

    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.

    Vietnam: HCM City’s dengue spike

    Ho Chi Minh City has recorded a 35 percent increase in dengue fever cases over the past month as the rainy season adds fuel to the rise in mosquito numbers. Hoc Mon, Binh Chanh, Thu Duc, Binh Thanh and Cu Chi Districts have all recorded outbreaks recently. Read more.