Health Alerts
  • Australia: Holidaymaker infected with JE

    A tourist on a 2-week trip to Thailand (a resort in Phuket for 9 days, then 4 days in Bangkok) has been diagnosed with Japanese encephalitis on his return to Melbourne. According to a ProMED post, the man had not sought pre-travel advice and had not had vaccinations for the holiday. While there is no information on his activities while in Phuket, it is stated that he had ‘multiple mosquito bites’. Onset of early symptoms (lethargy) occurred while the man was still in Phuket, suggesting that the infection was contracted there. He remains in a critical care unit, with ventilation support. Read more.

    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 low; however the recommendations for vaccination are itinerary-specific. Read more on JE

    Costa Rica: Mosquito-borne infections, vaccine news

    The Health Surveillance Directorate recently published a report on insect-borne diseases for the first 18 weeks of the year detailing cases of chikungunya (136), dengue (1,120) and Zika virus (157 confirmed, indicating that number could be as high as 772 in view of the infection’s high rate of asymptomatic cases). The Directorate also expanded on the campaign to eradicate mosquito breeding sites. Read more. News this week that 2 companies have started phase 1 human trials of their chikungunya vaccine candidates. 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 an effective 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.

    Cuba: Mozzies, infections surge in east

    According to a local news source, the eastern city of Holguín has significant infestations of the dengue fever & Zika virus-transmitting Aedes mosquitoes; both infections have surged in the area recently. A health official is quoted saying that ‘the zika virus is spreading in six departments, while the dengue has appeared in two.’ 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 repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Ebola report update

    From the latest WHO situation report: Testing of a suspected Ebola virus case identified at the end of April has proved positive and another case with onset of symptoms on May 11 have taken the case count in the outbreak in the remote northern region to ‘five confirmed, three probable and one suspected case. Of these, four survived and four died, resulting in a case fatality rate of 50%.’ Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Ebola is a severe viral haemorrhagic fever found in humans and other primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). It spreads through families and friends in close contact with blood and infectious secretions of people with obvious symptoms and, as such, presents a low risk to travellers visiting infected areas. Read more about Ebola virus disease.

    Europe: Regional measles figures; Advice for Madrid Pride event

    European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) data on measles outbreaks across the region shows some improvement in Italy where for the first 5 months of the year, 18 of the country’s 21 regions had reported a total of 2,719 cases. Austria’s measles cases reached 78 by mid-May – this number is already higher than the 2016 tally. Germany’s 634 cases for the year up to May 7th includes one measles-related death (a 37yo woman from Essen). In Romania the situation is the most acute: ‘6,434 cases, including 26 deaths. A possible additional death is under investigation. Infants and young children are the most affected group. Forty of the 42 districts have reported cases, Timis (West part of the country, at the border with Serbia) is the most affected district with 1 065 cases.’ Read more.
    AND a reminder for anyone travelling to Madrid for the upcoming World Pride Day (June 23 to July 2): The ECDC has issued a set of recommendations for your safety, part of which refers to the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak that has sickened 1,173 people (mainly men who have sex with men [MSM]) in 15 EU countries in the past year. A WHO news update issued on June 7 also advised of an increase in Hep A cases among MSM in Chile (706 cases up to May 5th) and in New York, USA. 

    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.

    India: Maharashtra’s monkey fever spike

    Official figures put the Kyasanur Forest disease (KFD) confirmed case count at 200 including 12 deaths in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district; however local residents believe those figures could be as high as 321 cases and 20 deaths. The outbreak started in October last year and is caused by contact with infected ticks from monkeys (giving it the name of monkey fever). Read more. More on KFD

    Indonesia: Water-borne infection upsurge in Central Java

    Rat fever, as leptospirosis is also known, has sickened 58 people and killed 8 in Kulon Progo Regency this year. The area lies in central Java, west of the city of Yogyakarta. Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals, typically rats (hence the alternative name). The bacterium enters the body through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth, as well as through broken skin. Read more. More on leptospirosis from the US CDC here

    Malaysia: Mounting dengue rates

    The Crisis Preparedness Response Centre has cautioned that dengue fever cases are on the increase across the country, warning residents to employ effective insect bite avoidance measures (repellent, protective clothing, screens, knock-down sprays). Read more.

    Panama: Dengue tally nears 1,000

    A ProMED post on the dengue fever situation puts the highest infection count in Panama North, followed by Panama Metro, San Miguelito and Guna Yala. A total of 980 dengue and 168 Zika virus cases have been recorded this year. The post includes other dengue data from the region.

    Philippines: Snail fever scourge

    An intestinal form of schistosomiasis, or bilharzia, is a potential risk for more than 12 million people, and 2.5 million have already been exposed. A local news report observes that children in the 5 to 15 years age group are most affected. According to the Department of Health Schistosomiasis Control Program website, the infection ‘is still endemic in 12 regions with 28 provinces, 190 municipalities, and 2,230 barangays’. The Philippines, together with parts of China and other areas of SE Asia are endemic for the Schistosoma japonicum species which, like other forms, is transmitted when humans come into contact with freshwater containing the parasite larvae. Read more .

    Advice for travellers: Schistomiasis or bilharzia is caused by a parasite which is released into fresh water by host snails. It burrows into the skin of people who swim or wade in rivers, streams and lakes containing the snail. With the rise in eco-tourism and adventure travel, increasing numbers of tourists are contracting schistosomiasis, according to a WHO fact sheet. Around 10% of travellers exposed to contaminated water will be infected. No vaccine or prevention medication is available, but schistosomiasis is treatable – especially if diagnosed early. Read more on the risk for travellers and how to prevent infection (Travelvax, WHO, CDC).

    Saudi Arabia: More MERS cases trigger strict measures

    Visiting times have been cut to one hour at a major hospital in Riyadh, as health authorities impose measures aimed at stemming a recent wave of healthcare-related MERS infections. An Afludiary post comments on the increased testing of healthcare exposures that has revealed a higher rate of asymptomatic infections that previously thought.  A WHO update provides details of recent cases in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar. Read more.

    Sri Lanka: Post-flood dengue, diarrhoea crisis

    The severe dengue fever outbreak that has been affecting the country for the past few months is deteriorating further, according to UN agencies. Currently UNICEF is providing aid following extensive flooding in the central and southern regions and is also ‘working on disease control for both diarrhoea and dengue which is starting to spiral out of control’. Read more.

    Sudan: Cholera strikes capital

    The cholera outbreak that has already struck many states (Blue Nile, eastern states, Northern, Al Jazirah, White Nile and North Kordofan) has now spread to the capital, Khartoum. The toll for the 10-month long crisis reached 14,659 cases with 292 resulting deaths by May this year. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: While the risk of infection with cholera is low for short-stay travellers, Australians travelling to regions where an outbreak is occurring should adhere to strict personal hygiene and choose food and beverages with care. For further advice on pre-travel recommendations, call Travelvax Australia’s travel health advisory service (1300 360 164). Read more about cholera

    United Kingdom: Syphilis surges to near-60 year high

    Syphilis case numbers have risen by almost 100 percent in the last 4 years; 3,001 in 2012 and 5,920 in 2016. The report ‘Sexually Transmitted Infections and Chlamydia Screening in England, 2016’, released by Public Health England (PHE) this week noted that the 2016 total is ‘the largest number of diagnoses reported since 1949’. What’s more, the ‘impact of STIs remains greatest in young heterosexuals 15 to 24 years, black ethnic minorities and gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM)’. Read the report.

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

    United States of America: Island & West Coast mumps; Tuna recall for Hep A risk

    The mumps case count in Hawaii now sits at 89. According to the health department website, ‘Approximately 40% of cases have been in adults aged 18 years and older’ and the majority of cases have been in residents of Oahu. Public health officials in Los Angeles County have also announced that there is currently a mumps outbreak occurring in the area, with more than 40 people infected. Read more.
    Fish supplied to food outlets in New York, Texas, Oklahoma, and California is suspected to be contaminated with hepatitis A virus, leading the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a recall. The FDA has also advised those people who may have consumed the fish (tuna) to seek post-exposure vaccination, if not already immunised against Hep A. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Hepatitis A (HAV) is a vaccine-preventable viral disease passed on to humans by faecally contaminated food and water, or by handling everyday items. It is a significant risk in travellers to developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that is 99%-plus effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

  • Brazil: YF update; Regional chikungunya news

    The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued a May 24th yellow fever situation update declaring, ‘No cases or epizootics were confirmed in new municipalities in Espírito Santo (ES), Minas Gerais (MG), and São Paulo (SP) in the last two weeks. The dates of symptoms onset of the most recently confirmed cases are 14 March 2017 (MG), 19 April (SP), and 24 April (ES).’ Also, ‘To date, the Aedes aegypti vector has not been reported to have a role in transmission. However, confirmed epizootics in large cities, such as Vitoria in Espírito Santo and Salvador in Bahia, represent a high risk for a change in the transmission cycle.‘ Read the full update here.
    ALMOST 38,000 chikungunya cases over a recent 2-week period were added to the country’s yearly tally, according to the May 26th PAHO update. It is certain that some of those will have been in Minas Gerais where an outbreak has produced nearly 16,000 cases for the year. Read all details of the weekly PAHO chikungunya update for the Americas. 

    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

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Outbreak slowing

    With no new Ebola cases reported since the 2nd week of May, the WHO has issued a cautious reminder that the risk of more cases is ‘low but not negligible’. Of the 19 reported cases, only 2 are confirmed, 3 probable and a further 14 are suspected. Risk of international spread is considered low due to the remoteness of the affected region, but remains high in the DRC itself and moderate for the region. Read more. DRC health authorities have given permission for the use of the experimental vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV) to provide ring protection to contacts of any new cases; however the WHO’s advice, given yesterday in an update, is that the current situation doesn’t warrant the vaccine’s use. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Ebola is a severe viral haemorrhagic fever found in humans and other primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). It spreads through families and friends in close contact with blood and infectious secretions of people with obvious symptoms and, as such, presents a low risk to travellers visiting infected areas. Read more about Ebola virus disease.

    Dominica: Viral illnesses surge

    Three health districts of the ‘nature island’ (Marigot, Portsmouth and Roseau) are reporting elevated rates of (highly contagious) viral conjunctivitis or ‘red eye’; a spike in chickenpox cases has also been reported in Grand Bay & Roseau districts. Read more.

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

    India: News of earlier Zika cases

    News this week of 3 Zika virus infections that were only diagnosed following routine blood tests – all 3 patients were residents of Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat and had not travelled outside the country. The tests were taken over 3 separate months this year and last (Feb & Nov '16 & Jan '17) but the information was only released to the WHO on May 15. 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).

    Kenya: Sand fly infection stings Marsabit, Garissa

    Visceral leishmaniasis (also known as kala azar) has struck the eastern and north-eastern provinces of Garissa and Marsabit. The sand fly-borne infection has killed one young child and sickened another 60 over the past 4 weeks. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Leishmaniasis is generally a low risk for travellers. 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.

    Malaysia: Dengue down, HFMD up

    Dengue fever cases are down in Borneo, dropping by half over last year’s figures for the same period; however the same cannot be said for hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) after health officials released data showing numbers had risen 7-fold. From January to May 27, there were 5,829 HFMD cases compared with only 825 for the same 5 month period in 2016. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: HFMD 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. Parents should be aware that seasonal epidemics of HFMD are common across Asia. Read more about HFMD.

    Myanmar: Dengue epidemic risk

    More on the dengue fever outbreak reported 2 weeks ago: the government has called for measures to tackle dengue fever and its mosquito vectors in anticipation of a peak in the cycle of infections this year. Yangon has had the highest incidence followed by Mon state and Mandalay region. 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 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.

    Nepal: Dengue’s early arrival

    The monsoons have not as yet arrived in Nepal, so the confirmation of 2 dengue fever cases in southern parts of Kathmandu is of concern to city health officials. In past years, sizeable populations of the mosquitoes capable of transmitting dengue (& chikungunya) have been found in Kathmandu valley and this has prompted the Dept. of Health to initiate a dengue awareness campaigns early in the season. Read more .

    New Caledonia: 10th dengue death this season

    The health department continues to urge the use of all measures to repel mosquitoes as this week brought news of 2 more deaths due to dengue fever-related causes. A 6-month old baby from a suburb of Noumea and an elderly woman from Poindimié on the eastern coast are the latest, taking the season’s toll to 10. The dengue fever infection case count for May (up to 31st) was 703, down from a high of over 1,100 in March and nearly 900 in April. Read more.

    Romania: Measles count now 6,000+

    While the measles count has now topped 6,000 in the current outbreak, tests are underway to confirm if the measles virus is responsible for another death - the 27th to date. A vaccination drive is in progress across the country as authorities attempt to raise immunisation rates that presently sit as low as 50 percent in some areas. 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.

    Sri Lanka: Further dengue woes predicted

    Following recent heavy rains, it’s not only floods and landslides that residents in the SW are having to endure, the risk of insect- (dengue fever) & water-borne illnesses (cholera, dysentery) escalates at times such as these. Suspected dengue fever cases have already topped 55,000 for the year - over 42 percent of those are from the Western province. The government has requested international aid to care for the thousands of people made homeless. Read more

    Tanzania: Cholera troubles for Zanzibar

    Food vendors have been banned from selling their wares in Zanzibar's open places as the local government attempts to stem a rise in cholera cases. Twenty-three cases have been diagnosed since March when heavy rains caused breeches in sanitation standards. 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

    Thailand: Dengue data released

    While there have been more than 11,000 dengue fever cases recorded across the country this year, there have also been 19 dengue-related deaths. The provinces of Songkla, Pattalung, Pattani, Narathiwat and Nakornsrithamarat that have been most affected all lie in the country’s SW, on the Malay Peninsula. Read more.

    Tonga: Upswing in mumps cases

    A mumps outbreak has been confirmed by the main hospital’s medical superintendent - up to 140 cases have been identified since April. In the same report issued by the Western Pacific Regional Office of the WHO: Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands has reported the majority of the 858 recent mumps cases. The under 14 years’ age group has been hit hardest. Also in the report, Fiji had recorded over 1,400 dengue fever cases, with 3 deaths, up to May 14th. The divisions reporting most cases were Central and Western. 

    Advice for travellers: These outbreaks 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 (see USA posting). Read more about mumps.

    United States of America: More mumps cases in the Aloha State; Rabies reports

    The number of confirmed mumps cases continues to rise, with the health department updating figures yesterday to 65. All but one case have been on Oahu (the other on Kauai). Departmental advice is to ensure MMR (measles, mumps & rubella) vaccinations are up to date, practice good personal hygiene and self-quarantine if symptomatic. Read more.
    A ProMED posting gives details of 13 recent rabies exposures across the US, mostly involving contact with foxes, bats or raccoons. One post concerns a confirmed human rabies case in a traveller who was bitten by a dog in India but did not seek treatment until after returning to the state of Virginia. There has been no update on the condition of the traveller since May 12th. 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

    Laos: Capital’s dengue hike

    From March to the end of the 4th week of May, Vientiane recorded 268 dengue fever cases, the highest count across the country. Authorities plan to raise public awareness of dengue and measures needed to eradicate mosquito breeding sites. In 2016, the province of Champasak (home of Si Phan Don - Four Thousand Islands) recorded the most dengue cases and dengue-related deaths. Read more .

  • China: WHO updates H7N9 bird flu situation

    This week’s assessment on the H7N9 human avian influenza situation undertaken by the World Health Organization (WHO) advises continued caution when travelling to regions reporting cases and warns that more cases are likely. The advice includes: ‘avoid, if possible, poultry farms, contact with animals in live poultry markets, entering areas where poultry may be slaughtered, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with faeces from poultry or other animals. Travellers should also wash their hands often with soap and water, and follow good food safety and good food hygiene practices.’ Read more. Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection weekly report on the situation (new cases & locations) can be found here

    Advice for travellers: Read more on bird flu and how to avoid it.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Ebola spreads in northern district

    More people suffering Ebola virus disease have been found this week, with the number now rising to 43 suspected cases. A further 365 people who were contacts are under observation. WHO officials say that the full extent of the situation won’t be known until all remote regions of the central north have been reached by medical teams. Read more.  

    Advice for travellers: Ebola is a severe viral haemorrhagic fever found in humans and other primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). It spreads through families and friends in close contact with blood and infectious secretions of people with obvious symptoms and, as such, presents a low risk to travellers visiting infected areas. Read more about Ebola.

    Kenya: Cholera strikes Nairobi, counties

    Cholera has killed 4 people and sickened many more in Nairobi, as well as several counties that include Garissa, Vihiga and Murang'a. The figures released by the health ministry take in information up to May 21st. 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, call Travelvax Australia’s travel health advisory service (1300 360 164).

    New Zealand: Palmerston North typhoid cases

    The typhoid fever outbreak recorded last month in Auckland may have spread beyond the city after 2 children in Palmerston North were diagnosed with the bacterial infection this week – one had family links to the affected Auckland community. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Typhoid is endemic in many developing regions and generally presents a low risk for short-stay travellers staying in western-style accommodation. It can be spread by infected travellers returning home from endemic countries. Vaccination is itinerary specific, but is generally recommended for those staying or travelling extensively in rural areas, as well as for adventurous eaters. All travellers visiting endemic areas should follow safe food and water guidelines, and adopt strict personal hygiene practices.

    Niger: Men. Meningitis C vax drive starts

    Niamey, Tillabéry, Dosso and Tahoua are the sites of a massive vaccination campaign carried out by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to stem the rise in meningococcal meningitis ‘C’ strain infections. Over 358,000 vaccine doses have been distributed thus far. 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. Niger 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: Viral diseases batter Sindh kids

    Young children aged 1 to 6 years make up most hospital admissions for management of chickenpox and measles infections in Sindh province’s Larkana and Sukkur districts. As many as 25 children are presenting for treatment each day. Read more.

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

    Qatar: Third MERS case hospitalised

    The 3rd MERS Co-V case to strike the country this year has been hospitalised in Doha and isolated for treatment. The man, who worked with camels – a risk factor for infection with MERS – had been suffering respiratory symptoms for a number of days. His contacts are also being monitored for signs of the virus. Read more. Saudi Arabia has reported 2 more MERS cases: both were confirmed by the Ministry of Health on May 19th and had primary sources of infection. Read more. More about MERS from the WHO. 

    Somalia: Measles vax to counter rise

    Children aged from 6 months up to 5 years will be vaccinated against measles in Banadir and Afgoye regions in response to the high rates of infection seen already this year - 7694 cases across the country and nearly 2,000 of those from Banadir alone. 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.

    South Africa: Kruger malaria advice

    Despite a slowing in the number of malaria cases reported in the NW regions of Mpumalunga/Limpopo recently, the Health Department continues to advise caution citing the higher incidence of malaria this season.  For those tourists heading to Kruger National Park, an official with the South African National Parks organisation advised ‘visitors to take the necessary precautions which include the use of prophylaxes …’. 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: Dengue situation deteriorates

    A local news source claims that the declaration of a state of emergency is imminent as hospitals struggle to cope with the high numbers of dengue fever cases in the country - 52,015 this year, with 131 related deaths. Adding to the problem, in recent years dengue virus (DENV) types 1 & 4 were circulating and this year it’s DENV type 2, meaning there is less likely to be immunity in the population.The monsoons start soon heralding the peak dengue season. 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 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.

    Sudan: White Nile’s cholera spread

    ReliefWeb reports that the spread of cholera continues in the White Nile state and now cases have been diagnosed in North Kordofan, a previously unaffected district. Southern regions of the state are worst hit with an epidemic currently underway. 

    United States of America: Oahu mumps cases rise

    In March Hawaii's mumps cases reached 9, but by this week that number had increased to 55. The majority of cases are on Oahu, but Kauai has also reported one case recently. More infections are likely according to the state health department

    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.

    Vietnam: Dengue season ramps up

    North Vietnam has just reported its first dengue-related death this year as the region heads towards the peak season. Up to 700 cases have been recorded in Hanoi since January, a significant rise over the same time period last year. Read more. A campaign to lower the incidence of dengue fever is underway in the province of Binh Duong, north of Ho Chi Minh City. Public awareness, insect control measures and education on treatment methods are just some of the measures being used to limit the province’s dengue cases which have topped 1,000 for this year. Read more.

    Zimbabwe: Hwange’s mystery illness, malaria

    Up to 50 patients from Hwange district have sought medical attention for an unknown illness – symptoms include high fever, joint pains and (some news sources report) paralysis. Testing of the patients, who are residents of Change, Dinde and Nekabandama, is underway to determine the diagnosis. Read more. Binga and Hwange both lie in Matabeleland North Province where this week a spike in reported malaria cases was announced – 113 confirmed in the last 7 days. Hwange reported 39 of the province’s total of 125 cases. Read more.