Health Alerts
  • American Samoa: Plan to tackle dengue

    A 6-month health emergency has been declared by the acting Governor as the nation tackles an increase in dengue fever cases – up to 30 suspected cases by mid-February. The declaration allows health agencies to access funding for the resources needed to provide anti-mosquito measures. 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.

    Australia: RRV in NSW & WA; More measles imported

    Even while the extensive Ross River virus (RRV) outbreak in NSW that has produced 430 cases this year is on the decline, the Greater Southern Region of Western Australia (administrative centre of Albany) is now experiencing a surge in cases - an increase is also being reported in Perth. Read more about Ross River virus
    THE 7 measles cases diagnosed in Sydney this year have all been acquired overseas – the latest, reported this week, was contracted in Thailand. The other cases were infected in Indonesia, India, Spain, Cambodia, Malaysia and Pakistan. And in Qld, health authorities issued an alert for 3 locations in a southern suburb of Brisbane after they were visited by a person suffering (infectious) symptoms of measles. The individual had also travelled overseas recently. 

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

    Brazil: YF outbreak nears coast

    The yellow fever (YF) outbreak has been expanding towards the coast at a faster rate than expected, so this week the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its YF vaccine recommendations to include the entire state of Espírito Santo, including the capital Vitoria. Read more. Regular updates are being provided as the situation evolves across the 7 affected states. The Brazilian government has sent almost 15 million vaccine doses to immunise the local population of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro states. 

    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 cases in east & west

    Mumps cases in Toronto have risen to 31 – a small number of those are school students, but the majority of cases have been in young adults who it is thought were infected when visiting west end bars; while in the western province of Alberta, the cities of Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat have all reported cases. 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: Bird flu wave dips

    A CIDRAP avian influenza report cites Chinese officials saying they believe that human H7N9 cases in the current seasonal wave of infections are decreasing. Hong Kong’s Centre for Disease Protection (CHP) has provided details of the latest cases in its weekly report, with highest case numbers from the provinces of Guangdong (6 cases), Anhui (4), Guangxi (4), Jiangsu (3 cases) and Jiangxi (2). 

    Ecuador: Dengue, Zika on rise again in Guayaquil

    Several districts in the greater metropolitan area of Guayaquil are experiencing an increase in cases of dengue fever & Zika virus over and above last year’s figures for the same period. Most flights to the Galapagos Islands originate or transit through Guayaquil and the city, which is the country’s main port, is undergoing a massive urban renewal program in order to attract international tourists. Read more (translate from Spanish).

    Advice for travellers: Zika’s symptoms include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis lasting 4-7 days. Long-term ill-effects are rare, although the joint pain may linger for weeks, even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants – even in upmarket hotels and resorts. Transmission of Zika virus has also occurred during pregnancy, breastfeeding, sexually and also through blood or blood products. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the main feeding time for Aedes mosquitoes. All travellers, but particularly pregnant women or those planning pregnancy, should seek medical advice before travel to Zika-affected areas. Read information on smartraveller (DFAT).

    Europe: Late flu season relief

    Seasonal influenza notifications across the region were on the decline in the last week of February, with countries no longer reporting high levels of influenza-like activity. The dominant virus has been H3N2; however as is the case in most late seasons, cases due to B types have risen slightly. Read more.

    Fiji: Some better dengue news

    Recent measures to reduce mosquito numbers have already lead to a reduction in dengue fever cases, according to the Ministry of Health. The insecticide spraying will continue in the Central, Western and Northern divisions where case numbers had been highest. Read more.

    India: Hep viruses confirmed in Cuttack water

    The jaundice outbreak reported last week in Cuttack (Odisha state) has been blamed by officials on illegal water pipe connections. Testing of the water found both hepatitis A and E virus contamination – the number of infections up to Mar 2nd was 150. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Both viruses are transmitted via the faecal-oral route. There is currently no protective vaccine for hepatitis E; however vaccine-preventable Hepatitis A (HAV) is one of the most common infections affecting travellers. It is a significant risk in most developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking, with an estimated 1.4 million cases occurring worldwide each year. The virus is transmitted by faecally contaminated food and water, or by handling everyday items, such as crafts, money, door-handles etc. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that’s 99%-plus effective and long lasting (20-30 years). It is also important to follow safe food and water guidelines.

    Indonesia: Red card for dengue

    A mostly residential district of Central Jakarta has been named as having the highest number of dengue fever cases in the municipality. Officials in Cempaka Putih have been put on notice by the mayor to act urgently on removing mosquito breeding sites in the area. Read more.

    Malaysia: Dengue hotspots remain; HFMD closes pre-schools in Sarawak

    A dengue fever update from the Health Director revealed that the year’s figures are lower than those of 2016 however, ‘…678 localities are still experiencing active epidemic with 94 hotspots, involving 5 states namely in Selangor (69 localities), Perak (15 localities), Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (4 localities), and 3 localities each in Johor and Negeri Sembilan’. Read more
    THE Health Director of Sarawak is urging parents to enforce strict personal hygiene measures for their children and to be vigilant for signs of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) symptoms as infection rates climb in the state, causing some childcare centres to be closed. Of the administrative divisions, Kuching has reported the most HFMD cases – 561 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.

    Namibia: Malaria surge in north

    Areas of the north and north-east of the country bordering Angola and Botswana are experiencing a surge in malaria cases, with over 3,800 cases and 13 deaths reported so far. The regions of Kavango (East & West), Zambezi and Ohangwena have been most affected. 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.

    New Caledonia: Third dengue death

    Another dengue fever fatality was recorded at the end of last week – the woman from the town of Dumbea (close to Noumea's NW city limits) is the 3rd this year to have succumbed to dengue complications; an epidemic was declared on January 5th, 2017. Cases this month (up to Mar 6th) have reached 56 and the total for this 6-month long outbreak is 1,238 cases – 3 dengue serotypes are circulating. Read more.  

    New Zealand: Mumps cases near 40

    Mumps infections have almost tripled in a recent 6-month period causing some concern to health authorities. While the 39 cases have been reported from across 6 different health districts, the majority (26) were from Auckland, followed by Northland & Lakes (3 each) and 2 apiece from Capital and Coast & Canterbury. Up to 16 cases were considered likely to have been contracted during overseas travel. Read more.

    Romania: Fears measles will cross borders

    The measles outbreak that started in February last year, producing over 3,000 cases in the 4.5 months up to mid-February 2017, is still not contained. An assessment of the situation from the European Centre for Disease Control reveals that there is some concern that low immunisation rates in regional countries could lead to the spread of measles beyond Romania’s borders. Read more.

    Sri Lanka: Dengue surge intense in Colombo

    Colombo district as the most populated has reported the highest numbers of dengue fever cases this year with 4,400 recorded followed by the districts Gampaha (2,330), Galle, Jaffna,Trincomalee and Kurunegala; dengue-related deaths now sit at 24. Read more.

    United States of America: Mumps in NW now tops 550; Flu activity high in east

    There has been no lull in the mumps outbreak hitting the north-west, with Washington’s latest tally topping 550 confirmed or probable cases from 11 counties. Spokane and King Counties have recorded the highest number of cases. REad more from FluTrackers.
    DATA from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s FluView shows that for the most recent reporting period (week to Feb 25th), most eastern states continued to report high influenza activity. The dominant strain remains A(H3N2) with ~74% of cases, B types 26%. Read more.

    Vanuatu: Ongoing outbreak of dengue

    Dengue fever case numbers reached 1,831 (45 admitted to hospital) up to March 2nd, as the outbreak that started in November last year continues. Read more.

    Vietnam: Pertussis surge in north

    A spike in pertussis (whooping cough) cases has hit the country’s north, with young infants from the mountainous regions most impacted. Admissions to a children’s hospital in Hanoi have surged this year, as up to 40 children (unvaccinated babies under 3 months of age make up half of those) have been admitted for treatment – 5 have died from complications of the bacterial infection. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Travelvax Australia recommends that all travellers ensure they are current for whooping cough (pertussis) and all childhood vaccinations, including, diphtheria, measles, chickenpox and tetanus for travel to any destination – be it a developed or developing country. Read more about pertussis

    Zimbabwe: Masvingo malaria surge

    Recent floods in the south-eastern district of Bikita have boosted the numbers of malaria-carrying mosquitoes, leading to 450 cases and 10 deaths in the last few days. Many areas of Masvingo province were inundated during the rains and local communities fear more cases are likely. Read more.

  • Botswana: Malaria surge in east

    More malaria cases are expected in the country’s east (Central district), with a boost to mosquito numbers from the current rains. The affected region, which lies outside the endemic region, centres on Tswapong North region, Maunatlala, Lerala, Ratholo, Moeng, Topisi, Mokokwana/Mosweu, Dikabea lands and Palapye. 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. More on malaria and for advice, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164. 

    Brazil: WHO’s concern over YF spread

    In the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Feb 24th update on the yellow fever (YF) situation, some concerns that the outbreak could expand were raised: infections have been confirmed in previously disease-free states and there are reports the virus was detected in primates near to border areas with Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. With reference to the recent Carnival period, it stated: ‘the risk of international spread cannot be formally ruled out but this risk is currently considered to be very low and limited to unvaccinated travellers returning from affected areas. Viraemic returning travellers may pose a risk for the establishment of local cycles of yellow fever transmission predominantly in areas where the competent vector is present.’ For travellers to transmission areas, the recommendation is to have the YF vaccine at least 10 days before travel, employ strict mosquito bite avoidance measures, be aware of YF signs & symptoms and, if concerned, report to a health facility promptly. Up to Feb 24th, the Ministry of Health has advised that there have been 1,368 cases of yellow fever infection (326 confirmed, 916 under investigation), including 220 deaths (109 confirmed, 105 suspected) from 6 states (Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Norte, São Paulo, and Tocantins – and one suspected case in Goiás was added on Feb 23rd). 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

    Chile: Santiago’s water supply tainted

    Drinking water quality for the capital, Santiago, has been compromised in the wake of recent heavy rains. Up to 4 million people are affected according to one news source and remediation of the infrastructure is slow due to the continued rains. Read more.

    China: H7N9 wave tops 450

    In the latest avian influenza report issued by the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) in Hong Kong on Feb 28th (for the week of Feb 19-25), details were provided on the 32 new H7N9 human cases from 13 mainland provinces. They take the number of H7N9 infections detected since November last year to 454. 

    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. 

    Egypt: Bird flu’s return

    A man from Fayoum Governate, SE of Cairo, died this week from complications of H5N1 avian influenza. His is the first death for the year and the second case in over 6 months, according to an Afludiary post (citing a FAO report). The non-fatal case was also from Upper Egypt (Menia Governate). 

    Europe: Hep A clusters widespread

    In the 12 months until February 2017, 3 clusters of hepatitis A cases have been identified across 13 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and UK). Most cases involved men who have sex with men (MSM) - for whom the Hep A vaccination is generally recommended. 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 common infection in travellers and is a significant risk in most developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that is 99%-plus effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water

    Fiji: Dengue cases exceed 150

    Up to 153 people have contracted dengue fever in the first 6 weeks of the year. The Western Division  has recorded most cases (88), followed by Northern Division (30) and Central/Eastern Division (25). The government has warned that anti-mosquito measures are needed to ensure there won’t be an increase in cases. 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.

    Guinea: Measles now in 25 districts, 2 deaths

    The measles outbreak announced by health authorities in early February has claimed 2 lives among the 1,055 cases. Fourteen prefectures have epidemic levels of infection and another 11 are reporting at least 1 case each. Children aged 6 months to 10 years have been most impacted by the epidemic. Read more (translate from French).

    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. 

    Haiti: Cholera toll mounts

    In the first 6 weeks of the year over 1,900 cholera cases have been reported – in the most recent week Artibonite and Port-au-Prince produced most cases. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Cholera is usually spread in contaminated water. For most short-stay travellers, the risk of infection is low. Australians travelling to regions where a cholera outbreak is occurring should adhere to strict personal hygiene guidelines and choose food and beverages with care. Read more about cholera

    India: Diseases spike in Pune; Cuttack jaundice woes

    Local doctors in Pune (Maharashtra state) believe that wide temperature fluctuations are behind a 20 percent increase in the incidence of typhoid fever, chicken pox, and fungal skin infections. Read more
    CONTAMINATED water supplies are believed to be the cause of a spike in jaundice cases (probable hepatitis) in the eastern Odisha state city of Cuttack. A further 33 cases were reported in one day this week, taking the total to 129. 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 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. 

    Nauru: 70 dengue cases registered

    A lack of testing equipment is hampering efforts to control an outbreak of dengue fever, with 70 cases diagnosed already. Read more.

    Nepal: Vax shortage hits locals

    A shortage of rabies vaccine is affecting the SE district of Saptari - this means that up to 5 people each day who have had rabies exposure are being turned away without the necessary treatment. 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

    New Caledonia: Noumea tops dengue count

    The February dengue fever total eventually reached 613, with the majority of cases from Noumea itself (suburbs most affected are Rivière-Salée, Magenta and Anse Vata). Read more.

    Nicaragua: Govt alert over malaria increase

    A 35 percent week-on-week increase in malaria cases has concerned health agencies. Last week 135 cases were detected, leading the Vice President to reassure the population that they were ‘attending to the causes and reasons of the increase’. Read more.

    Pakistan: New virus threat arrives

    Chikungunya had not been reported in Pakistan before mid-December 2016, but at that time positive test results from patients in Sindh province confirmed the presence of the virus. In the latest WHO update, it was revealed that there have now been 803 suspected cases, some from locations within Karachi. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The symptoms of chikungunya fever are similar to dengue fever and both are transmitted by the same mosquitoes – the day-time feeding Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Acute joint pain with a rash is typical of chikungunya and while fatal cases are rare, painful joints may persist for weeks or months after the acute phase has ended. There is no vaccine or prevention medication; Using an effective, tropical-strength repellent to avoid insect bites is the best form of protection. Read more about chikungunya

    Saudi Arabia: February MERS update

    Over the month of February, 18 more MERS Co-V cases and 5 deaths have been recorded in the kingdom - and 5 patients have recovered from the infection. Read more from FluTrackers.

    Sierra Leone: Lassa in Kenema

    Kenema district has recorded 3 deaths from Lassa fever and even though the disease is endemic to the area, health authorities are concerned about the number of positive cases. Read more. In Bauchi, a north-eastern state in Nigeria, 3 Lassa fever cases are in isolation at a local hospital – this follows the deaths of 4 of the 5 cases reported in the first 2 months of the year. Read more. And in Benin’s north, 61 people are infected with Lassa fever and 2 have died as a result. Read more.

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

    Singapore: Dengue season starts

    An unexpected increase in Aedes aegypti mosquito numbers (the dengue fever, chikungunya & Zika virus vectors) has been observed in the city-state and authorities consider that without adequate control measures, this could result in a marked increase in dengue fever case numbers in the peak season mid-year. Data provided in a ReliefWeb report for the year up to Feb 18th, shows that 592 dengue cases had been reported, with 10 intermediate risk areas in eastern districts. Read more. The National Environment Agency has identified 4 Zika virus infections over the month of February, however no active clusters have been detected; locations of where the infections were contracted is not stated. Read more.

    Somalia: Drought causes health crisis

    The WHO is responding to an unfolding crisis in the country as a surge in infectious diseases caused by a severe drought strikes the country. In the year up to Feb 18th, there have more than 6,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea or cholera, with 65 related deaths. Read more.

    South America: Latest chikungunya update

    Most countries in the region (including the Caribbean) have not updated their chikungunya case numbers this year, but of those that did in the most recent update, Brazil reported the largest total (3,190 cases), followed by Panama (207), Colombia (203) and Peru (175). Read more (Epidemiological Week 8).

    Switzerland: Measles peak still to come

    Low immunisation rates in the German-speaking cantons are of concern for health agencies as measles cases continue to be reported. A wave of measles infections that started last year is expected to persist into 2017. Read more.

    Thailand: HFMD widespread

    In an update of the ongoing outbreak of Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD), it was announced this week that there were now over 7,600 cases from all regions of the country (up to Feb 19th) with Suratthani, Chanthaburi, Chiengrai, Lampang and Phuket provinces hardest hit. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Seasonal epidemics of HFMD occur sporadically throughout Asia, mainly affecting young children. Asian countries with recent large increases in reported cases include China, Hong Kong (China), Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam. 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. 

    United States of America: Mumps spike in Colorado, colleges in other states reporting cases

    A mumps outbreak that started in January in the Denver metropolitan area http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/mumps-outbreak-investigated-as-14-diagnosed-in-colorado-11-in-denver-metro has now produced 42 cases, with another 7 reported elsewhere in Colorado. This represents a substantial increase on the average case numbers for the state (5-6). Read more. Universities in Alabama, California, Pennsylvania and Missouri are also reporting mumps outbreaks. 

  • American Samoa: Dengue levels rise

    Dengue fever season has taken off, with 13 cases confirmed so far – 8 have required hospitalisation. 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.

    Australia: Local dengue confirmed in Cairns, Innisfail

    The inner Cairns suburb of Parramatta Park is the site of 2 recent cases of locally-acquired dengue fever, leading health authorities to stress the need for residents to avoid mosquito bites while also targeting insect control measures. Read more. Innisfail’s dengue tally is now 5; the serotype has been confirmed as type 1 according to Qld Health

    Brazil: Alert raised in yellow fever outbreak

    An emergency situation has been declared by the federal government in response to the continuing spread of yellow fever and the rise in related deaths in some states. The priority is in vaccinating residents in high risk areas ahead of the upcoming Carnival, when the country will be host to large numbers of tourists. Read more.  More information with additional useful links can be found on smartraveller and through the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) travel notices.

    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.

    China: Bird flu cases soar to 422

    Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) issued its weekly avian influenza update on Feb 21st noting that up to Monday this week, there have been 422 H7N9 cases in Mainland China (since Nov 2016) – this represents an increase of 67 since the previous week’s report. 

    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.

    India: Early spike in mosquito-borne infections; Monkey fever toll rising

    It may not be the peak season for mosquito-borne diseases, but in Ahmedabad (Gujarat state), this year there have already been 88 cases of chikungunya, 25 of dengue and a spike of 148 cases of malaria. Read more
    UP to 39 cases of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), or monkey fever, have been reported this year in the town of Tirthahalli in SW Karnataka state. Three people have succumbed to the infection which is spread from monkeys to humans. Read more. And almost 500kms further north, in the state of Maharashtra, 45 people in Sindhudurg district have been diagnosed with KFD in a recent 2-month period – 2 deaths were recorded. Read more about KFD from the US CDC. 

    Mozambique: Cholera in Maputo & beyond

    Three cities have been struck by cholera outbreaks following a recent tropical storm. Over 320 cases and one death have been reported, with high numbers in the cities of Maputo, Matola and Nampula. 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: Second dengue death for Noumea

    The toll in the current dengue fever outbreak affecting widespread areas of Noumea is now 2, following a second woman’s death this week. According to the official government dengue website, there have been 383 dengue cases for the month of February up to Tuesday, 21st, and a total of 934 since Sept 1st last year. Read more

    Nigeria: Lassa in 9 states

    A local news report has quoted an official with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control as stating that the Lassa fever case count now sits at 196 suspected cases with 40 deaths (53 confirmed cases and 23 confirmed deaths) since the outbreak’s onset in December last year. It was also revealed that 9 states have reported infections: Ogun, Bauchi, Plateau, Ebonyi, Ondo, Edo, Taraba, Nasarawa and Rivers. As approximately 80 percent of infections are mild and therefore not diagnosed, the actual infection numbers could well be higher. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Lassa fever is a low risk for most travellers. Rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and it’s then passed on to humans through direct contact, touching objects or eating food contaminated with these materials, or through cuts or sores. While Lassa fever is mild or has no observable symptoms in about 80% of people infected with the virus, the remaining 20% have a severe multisystem disease. Read more on Lassa fever.

    Pakistan: Leishmaniasis surfaces in Shangla

    Leishmaniasis, which is endemic in Pakistan, has recently surfaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Shangla district, causing dozens of infections. There is a dire shortage of treatment medications in the region to treat the cases - mostly in women. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease spread by infected sand flies and is found in the tropics and subtropics, as well as in southern Europe. There are two main forms – cutaneous and visceral. The former causes skin ulcers, the latter a severe systemic disease that is usually fatal without treatment. Read more on the disease, where it’s found and how prevent it.

    Philippines: South’s sharp spike in chikungunya

    More than 50 people have sought medical treatment for suspected chikungunya infection over the past week in the central Mindanao region of Cotabato. 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.  

    South Africa: Measles vax for Western Cape children

    AN extensive measles vaccination campaign underway in the Western Cape region has already reached over 15,000 schoolchildren; it was coordinated in response to a recent outbreak of the viral disease in 3 Stellenbosch high schools. 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.

    Thailand: Kids under 5 hit by HFMD

    In last week’s post, we reported on a spike in Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD) in Vietnam, this week it’s Thailand. The Public Health Minister has advised of nearly 6,800 cases in the year up to Feb 14th, with children under 5 years of age hardest hit. 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.

    United States of America: NW mumps relentless: Surge in flu

    Spokane County has now overtaken King County in the number of reported mumps infections; Washington State’s tally has reached 470 during the ongoing outbreak. Read more
    INFLUENZA-like activity in the USA and Mexico increased leading up to Feb 5th according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) update. In the same report it was noted that, while influenza notifications were stable or decreasing in most of Europe, East & Western Asia, levels were elevated in Southern Asia (India & Sri Lanka). Influenza A(H3N2) remains the dominant strain. Read more.

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

    Vanuatu: Many areas reporting dengue

    The wet season, together with the significant numbers of people moving among the islands, is said to be largely responsible for the high dengue fever count currently being reported. As of Feb 16th (& since Nov 2016), over 1,600 cases have been recorded. An official with the Malaria and Vector Borne Disease Department has stated that infections have spread to many other areas besides those mentioned in recent reports (e.g. Efate, Urban Port Vila, and nearby rural areas; Sola in Torba province, Luganville in Sanma, Emae in Shefa, Norsup in Malampa province and Lenakel in Tanna, Tafea province). Read more. While in the Solomon Islands, the most recent update (Feb 5th) of the regional WHO office has supplied figures since August last year: 10,095 dengue fever cases in all 10 provinces; 680 required hospitalisation. 

    Vietnam: Methanol poisoning kills 7; Zika, dengue persist in south

    Wine laced with methanol is responsible for the mass poisoning of local residents in the NW province of Lai Chau. As many as 7 people have died, and another 31 are being treated in hospital, some requiring ventilation and renal dialysis. Read more
    NEWS from last week revealed that there have been a further 13 Zika virus cases this year, taking the case count since 2016 to 232. According to the Health Ministry, most were recorded in Ho Chi Minh City. The country also recorded a near 20 percent rise in dengue fever cases last year, with 110,876 infections and 36 related deaths. Read more. This year’s dengue season in the south-west has started early due to unseasonal rains. Hospitals in the region, including the Mekong Delta, have recorded increased numbers of people presenting with dengue fever and HFMD in the first few weeks of the year, running against usual annual trends. Read more.