Health Alerts
  • Botswana: Surge in malaria

    The North West region is experiencing a protracted malaria outbreak that has so far produced nearly 800 cases, many of them in the district of Okavango. Local officials are planning residual indoor spraying and the distribution of insecticide-impregnated nets to stop the spread. The wet season runs from November to May. Read more. The Health Minister of Namibia updated the country's malaria figures this week, announcing that since January there have been almost 12,000 cases and 18 deaths. Read more.

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

    Brazil: Massive effort to control YF outbreak

    International experts have been called in to assist with controlling the yellow fever (YF) outbreak that has spread from infected primates to humans in 4 states: Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. To Mar 24th, data revealed there have been 492 confirmed cases, with 162 deaths and another 1,101 suspected cases. While the infections so far have occurred in forested areas involving their distinct species of mosquitoes, the risk of urban transmission by means of the Aedes aegypti mosquito remains. Read the Mar 28th PAHO/WHO report

    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

    Canada: Mumps spreads across region

    Health authorities in the province of Alberta have reported 51 mumps cases, with 24 of those in the capital Edmonton. Free vaccines are being offered to members of the local population born after 1970. Read more. Outbreaks are occurring across North America, with ongoing spread in the US states of Arkansas, Washington, Kansas, Illinois and California.

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

    China: Marginal fall in H7N9 cases

    A slight dip in the number of human H7N9 avian influenza cases on the mainland was reported by Hong Kong’s Centre for Disease Protection this week, with 18 cases – half of those from the provinces of Guangxi and Hunan. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: While bird flu is often fatal in humans, there has been no sustained person-to-person transmission. Infection occurs after contact with infected birds, which makes the disease a low risk for travellers. Australians travelling to a region where the disease is present or an outbreak is occurring should avoid contact with birds or poultry in marketplaces, wash their hands before and after preparing food, and observe strict personal hygiene. Read more on bird flu and how to avoid it.

    Europe: Measles spread ‘of particular concern’

    The measles outbreaks underway in many parts of the Continent has been addressed by the WHO with a statement noting that the elimination of the disease is threatened by its growing incidence and by low immunisation rates in some areas. While many countries have managed to stop endemic transmission of the virus, 14 have not. Currently the largest outbreaks are taking place in Romania and Italy, while France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Ukraine are also reporting significant numbers. Read more

    Advice for travellers: A highly contagious virus, measles occurs in developing and developed countries. 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 6 weeks before departure.

    Laos: Dengue surge, regional data

    In a brief report from ReliefWeb, dengue fever data up to Mar 17 indicates higher activity than for the same period in 2015/6, with 489 cases confirmed. In the same report, Cambodia had recorded 138 cases for the first 11 weeks of the year. Read more.

    New Caledonia: Another dengue fatality

    This week the dengue fever epidemic that was declared in January has claimed a sixth victim – a man in his 30s from Grande Terre’s central west, about 200kms north of Noumea. March case numbers (up to 28th) are the highest monthly total, with 911 recorded. Almost half of the 2,115 cases reported since September are from Noumea. Read more (translate from French).

    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 daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid outdoors. Travellers should cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. Apply an effective repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    Nigeria: Men. meningitis in 5 states; Lassa persists

    Children aged between 5 and 14 years have been hit hard, making up around 50 percent of cases in a meningococcal meningitis outbreak – 5 states are involved, however most cases are in Samfara, Katsina, and Sokoto. Up to Mar 19th, there had been 1407 suspected cases and 211 deaths. A later news report announced 4 suspected Men. meningitis cases in children residing in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja; 3 died of the infection. Read more.  
    THE Lassa fever outbreak that started back in December is now running in 13 states. In the region, cases are also reported in Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Meningococcal meningitis is an acute bacterial disease transmitted from person-to-person through close (kissing, sharing eating utensils) or extended contact. Risk factors include extensive travel in crowded conditions or extended contact with local people in crowded places. Nigeria lies in North Africa’s ‘meningitis belt’, where meningitis outbreaks occur in the dry season (Dec-April) and just prior to the rainy season (May-June). If you plan to visit this region, call Travelvax Australia’s free travel health advisory service (1300 360 164 - toll-free for landlines) for further advice. Read more about Men. meningitis.

    Pakistan: Unidentified illness hits coast

    An illness that has struck a coastal region near Karachi is believed to be chikungunya fever, but a lack of appropriate tests means that it cannot be confirmed. Local doctors have said that control of mosquito numbers is a priority. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Like dengue fever, Chikungunya virus is spread by the daytime-feeding Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. There is no vaccine for either and avoiding mosquito bites is the only way of preventing infection. Read more about chikungunya

    Singapore: Appeal for vigilance as new Zika cases emerge

    The National Environment Agency has issued a news release announcing the details of 2 new locally transmitted Zika virus cases – both come from the same household in the ‘heartlands’, a NE residential estate in Hougang. According to the release, “Residents and stakeholders are urged to maintain vigilance and continue to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats, as there could still be asymptomatic or mild, undiagnosed cases which might result in further transmission of the virus if there are mosquitoes in the vicinity.” Meanwhile it has been a somewhat slower start for dengue fever this year, with 684 cases reported for the first 12 weeks of the year; however surveillance of the disease vector (& of Zika too) indicates high numbers of mosquitoes present. 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).

    Solomon Islands: Hope for end of outbreak

    Health authorities this week expressed hope that the drop in dengue fever cases seen this week will continue, but surveillance must be maintained. Read more.

    Somalia: Rush to prevent more cholera deaths

    The WHO is planning to distribute 900,000 cholera vaccine doses to those desperate people caught in drought-struck areas of the country. The international agency and other aid providers are battling an ongoing outbreak that has caused 13,000 cases and 333 deaths already this year. Read more. Read more about cholera.

    South Africa: Malaria alert raised

    In view of the reporting of malaria cases in Western Waterburg, an unusual occurrence as noted in last week’s post, the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) travel notices for the region now advise alert level 2 – Practice Enhanced Precautions. The notice includes a detailed map together with updated recommendations for malaria prophylaxis. Read more.

    South America: Chikungunya update for region

    Chikungunya figures for the most recent reporting week were added by Paraguay, Peru and Colombia - a total of 185 new cases between them. Read more. In a separate Portuguese language news report, the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, which is also experiencing a large yellow fever outbreak (see Brazil post), has seen an 8-fold increase in chikungunya cases this year over the previous 12 months figures; 48 new cases are being reported every day. Read more

    Zimbabwe: Floods spark disease threat

    Floods have triggered a surge in malaria notifications over the past 2 months, with almost 90,000 cases and 151 related deaths. The Health Ministry announced this week that the weather has also caused water supplies to become contaminated leading to a heightened risk of typhoid and cholera infections. Read more.

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

  • Brazil: Two more states included in vax advice; Chikungunya update

    With no real slowing of the yellow fever (YF) outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has once again updated vaccination recommendations for travellers – this time for those heading to the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The major urban centres of Rio de Janeiro City and Niterói (in Rio de Janeiro state) and São Paulo City and Campinas (State of São Paulo) are excluded. Investigations of human cases – both suspected and confirmed – and the presence of the virus in primates that live in the states’ forested regions have triggered the new advice. Additionally, 2 human YF cases have been diagnosed in the city of Casimiro de Abreu, approx. 135 kms from Rio de Janeiro (& ~30kms from the coast). A statement from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) noted that there is no evidence the urban-dwelling Aedes aegypti mosquito is spreading the virus in towns. Up to Mar 20th, the Ministry of Health update singalled that the outbreak had hit 8 states, with 1,561 cases (850 under investigation & 448 confirmed) and 264 deaths (144 confirmed & 110 suspected). Read more.  
    CHIKUNGUNYA figures updated recently to the PAHO show a further rise in cases in Brazil (6,540 confirmed and suspected cases), followed by Bolivia (242), Nicaragua (110) and Paraguay (85). 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

    Canada: ‘Worst’ norovirus outbreak from BC oysters

    Several oyster farms in British Columbia have been closed following a norovirus outbreak that has sickened over 300 people across 3 provinces. The source of infection that contaminated the molluscs has not been determined as yet, but among those being considered are a sewage leak or storm water pollution. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: While it is extremely contagious, norovirus infection is generally short-lived, causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, which may lead to more serious complications among young children, the elderly, and the sick. To minimise the risk, wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating, and practice good hygiene. Read more on norovirus.

    China: 22 new H7N9 cases

    Bird flu cases due to the H7N9 virus continue to mount on the Chinese mainland. The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection puts the figure since Oct last year (up to Mar 18th) at 523 cases. The most recent report adds another 22 cases to the previous week’s total – from the provinces of Guangxi (6 cases); Hunan (5); Guangdong & Guizhou (3 each); Henan (2) and Chongqing, Fujian & Jiangxi (1 case each). 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.

    Ecuador: YF case following lull

    There hasn’t been a documented human case of yellow fever in the country since 2012, but last week the PAHO issued a statement with details of a new case – a man in his early 30s living in the northern province of Sucumbios, bordering Colombia. Read more.

    Europe: Measles’ reach increases

    The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) released a round-up of measles notifications in the region, including details of the large ongoing outbreak in Romania. Other countries reporting substantial increases on typical yearly numbers are Italy (Piedmont, Lazio, Lombardy, Tuscany & Pescara), Belgium (Wallonia) and Austria. 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.

    Fiji: Dengue cycle revs up

    The Health and Medical Services Minister has asked the local population to take a hand in preventing the further spread of dengue fever to counter a rise in cases during the current wet season. The nation reports dengue infection surges every 5 years now, from the previous 10-yearly cycle. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Dengue is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes. Both breed close to dwellings, are found in shady areas and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid outdoors. Travellers should cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. Apply an effective repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    Indonesia: Tourists ‘export’ virus

    Over the past few weeks, several states have reported measles cases in Australian travellers following trips to Bali. Western Australia, Qld (Noosa & Gold Coast),   Victoria  and NSW have all reported cases thought to be acquired on the Indonesian island. 

    Malaysia: Dengue hike in peninsular state

    Recent rains in the state of Perak that provided the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes have resulted in a rise in the incidence of dengue fever. A State Health Committee official disclosed there were currently “11 hotspots in Kinta district, 17 uncontrolled outbreaks, 47 controlled outbreaks and six new outbreaks around the state.” Read more.

    New Caledonia: No let-up in dengue

    Confirmed dengue fever cases have climbed to 624 this month (up to Mar 22nd) as the epidemic declared in January continues. Noumea has reported almost half of the 1,828 cases since Sept 1st. Read more.

    Nigeria: Men. Meningitis hits north-west

    A spate of meningococcal meningitis infections in the NW states of Zamfara and Sokoto has affected more than 500 people and caused 80 deaths. The local government area of Birnin-Magaji appears to be the centre of the outbreak. Results of early tests show some have proved positive for the bacteria’s C strain. And in Niger, the current meningococcal meningitis season has caused over 500 infections and 34 deaths, with most from 4 health districts ((Niamey 2, Niamey 3, Ouallam & Tillabéry). Read more.  

    Advice for travellers: Meningococcal meningitis is an acute bacterial disease transmitted from person-to-person through close (kissing, sharing eating utensils) or extended contact. Risk factors include extensive travel in crowded conditions or extended contact with local people in crowded places. Nigeria and Niger lie 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.

    Oman: Tick-borne disease trebles

    Cases of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) have trebled in the first weeks of this year compared to the same period last year. According to the Health Ministry, 6 people have been treated for the infection and a further 3 died. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: CCHF virus is transmitted to people either directly by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter. The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, so infection is a low risk to travellers. Read more about CCHF virus.

    Saudi Arabia: Dengue in west surges

    Public assistance in eradicating mosquitoes is paramount as the city of Jeddah tackles a rise in the incidence of dengue fever – over 500 cases in the first 10 weeks of the year. Four city districts are considered higher risk for the viral infections - Al-Hamdaniyah, Al-Balad, Al-Safa and Al-Aziziyah. Cities such as Jeddah and Makkah in the central west are known dengue endemic areas. Read more.

    South Africa: Unusual malaria spike in Limpopo; Gauteng measles alert

    Perhaps linked to last week’s report on widespread malaria in Botswana, the northern province of Limpopo has seen malaria cases in areas where the parasite is not commonly found. Western regions of the province, including Lephalale and Thabazimbi in the Waterburg district have been most affected with 46 cases reported - no deaths have resulted. Read more.
    HEALTH facilities in Gauteng are on the alert for measles cases after 9 children from southern suburbs of Greater Johannesburg were infected recently. A vaccination drive is underway. Read more.

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

    Sri Lanka: Eastern province endures dengue menace; Flu increasing

    The north-eastern district of Trincomalee is experiencing a devastating dengue outbreak that has so far caused 23 deaths and 22,562 cases. The epicentre of the outbreak is the town of Kinniya, at the western end of Koddiyar Bay. Schools have been closed as authorities try to control the spread that is straining health care facilities. Read more. Towns further south (Batticaloa) and inland (Kantale) have also reported cases. Read more.  
    IN the latest WHO global influenza update, Sri Lanka was one of 3 countries in Southern Asia (also India and the Maldives) reporting an increase in flu cases – mainly A(H1N1). In the northern hemisphere, notifications are declining and most other regions are at inter-seasonal levels. 

    United Kingdom: Mumps strikes northern campuses

    Tertiary education facilities in Edinburgh and surrounding districts have reported a surge in mumps cases recently. Health officials have requested that students ensure their vaccinations are current. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: This 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.

    Vietnam: Weather blamed for spate of infections

    Changeable weather has been blamed for a spurt of infectious diseases that has hit Ho Chi Minh City. Local hospitals have had to cope with increased numbers of hand, foot & mouth disease (HFMD), chicken pox, measles, influenza, diarrhoea, and typhoid cases. It is young children and the elderly who have been most affected to date. 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.

    Zambia: Cholera hits Luapula, Northern provinces

    Cholera has hit 2 northern districts, near the borders with the DR of Congo and Tanzania. Cases in Chiengi have tipped 54 with no deaths recorded, while in Mpulungu 16 people have been hospitalised. Read more (translate from French).

    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

    Zimbabwe: Malaria in wake of floods

    Deaths from malaria complications have risen to 33 in the SE province of Masvingo. The eastern boundary of the province lies on the border with Mozambique where a recent cyclone brought heavy rains and a rise in malaria (and cholera). Read more.

  • Australia: Travel-related measles in VIC & QLD

    Customers of a large store in Melbourne’s west were advised to be on the alert for symptoms of measles after one of its workers was diagnosed with the infection. According to the news article, the person had recently returned from a holiday in Bali. Read more. And on the Gold Coast this week, there are reports of 2 young travellers who had also returned from Bali infected with measles. The school-aged child and a baby under 1 year had been taken to several locations while infectious, including a local school and Gold Coast University Hospital. Read more.

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

    Botswana: Malaria more widespread

    The Ministry of Health has disclosed that malaria has become more widespread following recent heavy rains and is being reported in areas where it is not usually seen. These include North East, Serowe, Palapye, Mahalapye, Kgatleng, Kweneng, Kgalagadi South and Gantsi. Endemic regions, which include Chobe and Okavango, have also reported an increase in cases. Read more.

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

    Brazil: YF vax for Rio state while cases climb; Other vector-borne diseases slump

    A massive vaccination campaign is set to be rolled out in the state of Rio de Janeiro as the government tries to stem the yellow fever (YF) outbreak that is threatening to spread into urban areas. Once there, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is in abundance in many towns across the country, is capable of transmitting the virus between unimmunised people. Read more. The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has issued a risk assessment for their travellers to the region, advising caution and careful monitoring of the situation. Four YF infections have been recorded in (unvaccinated) European travellers to South America (Peru, Bolivia & Suriname) in the past 8 months, equal to the number reported from all YF-endemic regions over the previous 27 years. There have now been over 1,500 suspected YF cases and 255 deaths under investigation across 7 states. Read more (translate from Portuguese).
    THE incidence of other mosquito-borne viruses spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito this year has dropped by almost 90 percent over the same 6.5 weeks of early 2016, according to the Ministry of Health. Dengue, chikungunya and Zika virus cases have almost tipped 70,000 while last year that total was many times higher at nearly 600,000. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Yellow fever virus is a mosquito-borne disease found in tropical and subtropical areas in Central/South America and Africa. While it can be severe, yellow fever infection is a very rare in Australian travellers. However, under the International Health Regulations (IHR), proof of vaccination may be required of any traveller entering or leaving an area at risk of yellow fever transmission. Read more about yellow fever

    Burundi: Malaria outbreak intensifies

    Four areas in the country’s north and east (Kirundo, Muyinga, Kayanza & Cankuzo) are at the centre of a of 13 percent rise in malaria cases. The government has now declared an epidemic and assistance has been sought from international agencies to respond. Nine million malaria cases and 3,700 related deaths have been recorded nationally since 2016. Read more.

    Canada: Mumps strikes young adults

    The mumps outbreak that originated in west end Toronto bars has now produced 37 cases. Only a few of those are in schoolchildren, the majority have occurred in 18 to 35 year olds. 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.

    China: H7N9 bird flu update

    Hong Kong has reported this season’s 5th human H7N9 avian influenza case to be introduced from mainland China. The news was revealed in the Centre for Health Protection’s (CHP) weekly update that also included information on a further 24 new cases on the mainland, from the provinces of: Henan & Jiangxi (4 cases each), Guangxi & Sichuan (3 each), Fujian, Guizhou, Hunan & Jiangsu (2 each) and Chongqing & Hubei (1 case). Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Human H7N9 cases continue to be reported throughout China, often linked to the wet markets or farms. While bird flu is often fatal in humans, there has been no sustained person-to-person transmission. Infection occurs after contact with infected birds, which makes the disease a low risk for travellers. Australians travelling to a region where the disease is present or an outbreak is occurring should avoid contact with birds or poultry in marketplaces, wash their hands before and after preparing food, and observe strict personal hygiene. Read more on bird flu and how to avoid it. 

    Guinea: Measles surge in SW

    With no respite in the measles outbreak, relief agencies are concentrating much of their efforts on the hard-hit south-eastern prefecture of N’Zérékoré. Up to Mar 8th, over 2,100 children across 17 different prefectures have been infected with measles; many of them are malnourished and have suffered severe complications. Read more.

    Hungary: Origin of outbreak unclear

    Several staff members at a hospital in the SE city of Mako have been infected with measles and now the virus has expanded into the local community. To date, 29 people in the cities of Mako, Szeged and Debrecen have been diagnosed with the infection and there is concern the virus has spread from neighbouring Romania. Read more. A separate news report on the outbreak in Romania states that the death toll from measles in the ongoing outbreak now sits at 17 – all were unvaccinated children. There have been more than 3,400 cases, many of those from the west and south-western regions. Read more.

    India: Tick disease lingers in SW

    As many as 44 cases and 4 deaths from Kyasansur Forest Disease (KFD), or monkey fever, have now been observed in Thirthahalli taluk, Karnataka state. The taluk (local administrative division) lies in the forests of the Western Ghats. Read more. More on KFD here.

    Maldives: Flu epidemic declared

    Schools have been closed early for the mid-semester break as the country tackles rising rates of seasonal influenza. The leading health agency has urged the population to cancel sporting events and public gatherings, avoid travelling and maintain good personal hygiene. Measures are also being taken to reduce the time tourists must remain in the main airport. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Seasonal flu is the most common vaccine-preventable travel-related illness because it is a potential risk during every stage of the journey. Whether you are travelling within Australia or overseas, Travelvax recommends flu vaccination for all travellers over 6 months. 

    Mozambique: Rains allow disease to spread

    The cholera outbreak is continuing unabated, with 4 provinces and 1,222 people now affected - 2 related deaths have occurred in the capital Maputo. 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

    New Caledonia: No respite from dengue

    A further 319 dengue fever cases have been reported for the month of March (up to 14th), taking the total for the outbreak that started on Sept 1st last year to 1,523. Rivière Salée in the NW sector of Noumea has recorded the highest number of cases. Read more (translate from French).

    Pakistan: More chikungunya predicted

    Lack of awareness about chikungunya fever and its symptoms are thought to be the main reasons for a decrease in the number of notifications in Sindh province, so the case count of 855 over the past 4 months is probably far lower than the actual total. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Chikungunya virus is spread by the same daytime-feeding mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever. There is no vaccine and preventing infection relies on avoiding mosquito bites. 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 chikungunya and avoiding insect bites

    Saudi Arabia: MERS claims another 4 lives

    In an update on MERS Co-V infections from Mar 7-14, the Ministry of Health announced 8 new cases and the deaths of 4 patients. Half of the new cases were from Wadi ad-Dawasir, a town in the Dawasir valley approx. 650kms SW of Riyadh. Read more.

    South Africa: Malarial hitchhikers in 2 locations

    Four cases of so-called ‘suitcase’ or ‘taxi’ malaria have been identified in 2 areas of the country: one near Pretoria and the other in North West province, in Swartruggens. None of the infected people had travelled to malarial areas, so it is thought that mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite had been transported into the non-endemic areas – a rare occurrence. Three of the patients died from malaria complications. Read more.  

    Sri Lanka: Dengue shuts schools

    Kinniya in the country’s north-east has experienced a sudden spike in dengue fever cases recently, with as many as 13 deaths over the past 2.5 weeks. Schools in the areas are being closed for 3 days to enable an ‘anti-dengue program’ to be initiated. The national dengue case count is now over 21,000 – many of those from the Western District. Read more.

    Taiwan: Surge in vomiting virus

    The highly infectious norovirus is behind a huge surge in people seeing their doctors for treatment of gastro-intestinal illness, with up 140,000 last week alone. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: While it is extremely contagious, norovirus infection is generally short-lived, causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, which may lead to more serious complications among young children, the elderly, and the sick. To minimise the risk, wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating, and practice good hygiene. Read more on norovirus

    Thailand: Rabies persists despite campaign

    Almost one-third of a sampling of 77 animals tested in Buri Ram province have shown rabies infection two years after an epidemic was declared. Positive results were found in dogs, cats & water buffalo in the NE province; however no human cases have been recorded. The province borders NW Cambodia. 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: Widespread mumps continues; Zika transmission risk for 3 Florida counties

    A summary of mumps notifications across 7 states from ProMED indicates outbreaks in Kansas, California, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Pennsylvania – many of the infected are school or university students. The Washington state outbreak goes on, with almost 600 cases reported to date. Read more.
    THE US CDC has issued a warning of the increased risk of Zika virus transmission since mid-June last year in 3 Florida counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. The alert results from research showing that the virus can remain in seminal fluid for an extended period. The increased risk in the area is also considered to be due to: Local virus transmission in Miami-Dade; many unreported asymptomatic infections and residents travelling to areas with the potential for infection, both in Florida and internationally. 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).

    Venezuela: Malaria accelerating

    The spread of malaria beyond the endemic regions of Amazonas and Bolivar states has concerned doctors, and the shortage of treatment medications is making the situation worse. A recent report outlines the presence of the mosquito-borne parasite in another part of the country: 3 areas within Isla de Margarita in Nueva Esparta state, 40kms from the country’s central coastline. This disclosure comes after a malaria report issued by a national heath body revealed that 14 states were now affected by malaria epidemics - 3,000 to 5,000 cases are being reported each week. Read more.