Health Alerts
  • Brazil: Yellow fever, chikungunya updates

    Figures from the Ministry of Health’s May 10th update (computer translated) reveal that there have now been 3,175 yellow fever cases (756 confirmed, 622 under investigation & 1,797 discarded), and 421 deaths (259 confirmed, 47 under investigation and 115 discarded) from 124 towns in 6 states. In the same report it is noted that the most recent cases were in the states of Espirito Santo, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro with dates of onset of symptoms ranging from April 6 to 20. A vaccination campaign, which has been put in place to provide cover for 95% of the affected populations (thereby mopping up areas of low coverage) has involved over 24 million vaccine doses to date. Read more (translate from Portuguese). Chikungunya is still maintaining a presence in the country and even without the most recent figures (since mid-April), Brazil has recorded 43,010 confirmed and suspected cases since the beginning of the year. 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

    China: New province with H7N9 signals no slowing

    Warming of the weather would usually signify a decline in the number of human bird flu cases, but this season is proving unusual. In Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection weekly update issued on May 16th, a further 23 H7N9 cases were announced; 5 of those from Hebei province. Another province, Shanxi, has since been added to the list of those affected in the current wave of infections (since October last year) after a 66-year old woman was diagnosed with H7N9 avian influenza in the northern city of Datong. 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.

    Costa Rica: Trio of mozzie diseases

    Health department data on mosquito-borne diseases reported in the first 16 weeks of the year show that there have been 152 Zika virus infections, 1,138 dengue cases and 133 chikungunya cases. The local news report also details the extent of the measures being employed to tackle mosquito breeding sites. 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).

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Health agencies on Ebola alert

    As many as 21 suspected Ebola virus cases, including 3 deaths, have been reported in the country’s central north province of Bas Uele, putting the World Health Organization and Africa Centers for Disease Control & Prevention on alert. A further 400 people who were contacts of the cases are being monitored for symptoms. Two of 5 laboratory samples taken from early victims have shown Ebola virus present (Zaire subtype). The affected areas are Nambwa (13 cases, 2 deaths), Mouma (3,1), Ngayi (6,0) and Azande (1,0). Read more. Vaccination of healthcare workers and others involved in the care of patients is under consideration, using the experimental rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine. 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.

    India: Monkey fever spike; Dengue in south; Assam’s JE count

    Kyasansur Forest disease (also known as monkey fever) has killed 11 people and infected 187 this season in Sindhudurg District, Maharashtra state. Infections have increased by almost one-third over the previous season (which runs from November to the beginning of the monsoon season). Read more.
    OVER half of the 3,100 dengue fever cases in the southern state of Kerala have been recorded in the capital Thiruvananthapuram. Read more. And in the city of Tirunelveli in neighbouring Tamil Nadu state, up to 10 people a day are seeking treatment for symptoms of dengue fever. Read more.
    TWO cities that sit near the banks of the Brahmaputra River in the state of Assam have borne the brunt of Japanese encephalitis (JE) infections this year. Across the state there have been 39 cases and 9 deaths, with Jorhat and Sivasagar districts hardest hit. 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 very low. The recommendations for vaccination are itinerary-specific. Read more on JE

    Malaysia: Selangor’s dengue surge

    At least 6 districts in Selangor state, many of them near the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, have reported a surge in dengue fever numbers this year. Petaling, Hulu Langat and Klang districts have between them recorded more than 14,000 cases and 25 deaths. 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.

    Myanmar: Dengue in Yangon, Bago region

    Dengue fever cases have increased over the year in 20 townships of Yangon, from 254 for the period January to the end of April in 2016, to 954 this year. Read more. Further north, dengue has also hit Pyi District, Bago Region. Read more.

    New Caledonia: Dengue toll hits 8 this season

    An 8th person, a resident of Noumea, has succumbed to dengue fever during the current outbreak that started in September last year; a further 17 people are being treated in hospital for related conditions. The numbers appear to be slowing, with 339 reported for the month May up to the 17th, according to the Direction des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales website. Total case numbers for the outbreak have now reached 3,569. Read more.

    Niger: Men. meningitis persists, Nigeria cases top 13,400

    The death toll from the meningococcal meningitis outbreak that started in January is thought to be at least 179, with many children among those. The numbers of suspected cases now sits at 3,037. Read more. To the south, Nigeria’s Centre for Disease Control updated their Men. meningitis outbreak figures on May 12th, announcing that ‘13,420 suspected cases have been identified … The number of deaths recorded is 1,069’. 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. Both Niger and Nigeria 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.

    Niue Island: Dengue case sparks alert

    A single case of dengue fever has been reported on the remote island, but with a population estimated to be around 1,600, an alert has been issued. All residents have been advised to take precautions against mosquito bites and report any typical dengue symptoms. Read more. The last substantial outbreak appears to have been in 2012, with ~100 people infected. 

    Peru: More support needed for fever patients

    Demonstrations have been held by Piura healthcare workers as they struggle to get the government support needed to tackle the current dengue fever epidemic. A news source quoting official data claims there have been 3,150 confirmed cases and a further 12,446 are suspected in the NW region. 300 new cases are reported each day. Read more.

    Romania: Measles toll now 25

    The 25th victim of the ongoing measles outbreak was announced last week by the health minister, a 2-year old unvaccinated child from Aleșd, 50 km from the Hungarian border. Read more. From January 2016 to May 5th this year, almost 6,000 measles cases have been recorded in Romania and infections linked to the outbreak have been identified in other European countries. The ECDC Communicable Disease Threats Report lists the 14 countries in the region that have reported measles cases this year. 

    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.

    Saudi Arabia: MERS case numbers rise again

    ProMED reports on a MERS Co-V update issued by the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office and provides details of the total number of coronavirus cases since Sept, 2012 and the most recent infections. Four of the 5 confirmed cases over the last reporting week are considered nosocomial (healthcare acquired) from the regions of Riyadh (3 cases) and Bisha (1 case). Read more about Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

    Singapore: Zika slows, dengue count nears 1,000

    There have been 998 dengue cases since the beginning of the year (up to May 16), with 4 active clusters still producing a small number of cases. On the Zika virus front, no new cases have been detected over the past 7 days. Read more.

    South Africa: Rainfall, temps partly to blame for rise in malaria

    The National Institute for Communicable Disease update on malaria transmission in the country’s north-east has cautioned that Mopani and Vhembe Districts in the province of Limpopo and Bushbuckbridge in Mpumalanga Province are experiencing an increased incidence of malaria. The situation has been made worse by higher rainfall/temperatures and ‘reduced insecticide spray coverage in some areas’ due to budgetary restraints. 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.

    Tajikistan: Dushanbe’s measles spike

    A measles outbreak that started in early April has caused 345 infections in and around the capital Dushanbe; over 70 percent of cases have required hospitalisation. Most cases have been in young children aged one to 9 years; that age group is to be targeted in a vaccination drive taking place this month. Read more.

    United States of America: Island mumps; Listeria triggers cheese recall; Minnesota’s measles surge

    Hawaii’s mumps notifications have hit a 16-year high with 39 for the year, after another 9 residents had their diagnoses confirmed this week - 8 on Oahu and one on Kauai. Read more
    OVER 2,700kg of cheese that had been distributed to retailers in California has been recalled after listeria was detected in the product, Quesos De La Costa Queso Duro Blanco. Read more. More on listeria.
    THE Somali-American community in the state of Minnesota is at the centre of a measles outbreak that has led to 50 infections among them, and 60 overall. The counties of Hennepin (51 cases), Ramsey (3), Crow Wing (4) and Le Sueur (2) have been affected; further spread to other districts is expected. 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.

    Yemen: Cholera alert declared

    The extent of the cholera outbreak in the capital Sanaa has deteriorated to such an extent that a state of emergency has been enacted. Across the country, over 14,000 people have been sickened by cholera (resulting in at least 186 deaths) - 2,567 of those cases and 115 deaths were in Sanaa. International aid agencies have requested assistance in managing the crisis. Read more. More on cholera.

  • China: Quarantined for bird flu

    More than 300 people in Shaanxi province have been placed under quarantine because they were close contacts of the 4 recent cases of human H7N9 avian influenza. Of the 4 cases, 2 have died and 2 remain in hospital – one of them in a critical condition. Read more. Across other provinces, a further 24 bird flu cases were identified over the last reporting week, with the highest number of cases in Hebei (7 cases) and Sichuan (6). Read more. The Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection advice for travellers to areas experiencing avian influenza can be found here

    Kenya: Mombasa’s dengue spike

    The coastal county of Mombasa has recorded a surge in dengue fever with over 350 people infected, according to health authority figures – most cases came from Kisauni subcounty. Plans are underway for the rainy season with efforts to curb the number of transmitting mosquitoes. 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 a 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.

    Liberia: Some answers to mystery illness

    Investigations into the unidentified illness that had sickened 25 people and killed 11 (as reported in last week’s alerts) have produced some answers, but not all. With the case count now at 31 with 13 deaths, results of samples taken from earlier victims have shown 4 were infected with meningococcal meningitis C strain bacteria. The WHO is still carrying out testing on others to determine the next action needed to stem the spread of infection. 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.

    Malaysia: Kedah dengue rise

    There’s been a surge in dengue fever cases in the NW state of Kedah this year, with 513 reported to date. Kuala Muda district, near the border with Penang state has recorded 2 of the 3 dengue-related deaths this year. Read more.

    Oman: Measles strategy for expats and locals

    Foreign workers travelling to Oman are now required to have proof of measles vaccination as the country tries to counter an increase in measles infections. The local population is also targeted, with those adults aged between 20 and 35 the focus of an immunisation campaign starting next week – this has proved to be the age group at heightened risk of infection in Oman. Read more .

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

    Portugal: Hep A count tops 240

    In a local update on the hepatitis A outbreak that has spread across many European countries over the past 15 months, Portuguese health authorities have announced that their case count has now hit 242, up from 107 a month ago. The majority (>90%) of cases are in men who have sex with men (MSM) – a potentially higher risk category. Read more (translate from Portuguese). And with the upcoming WorldPride event due to start in Madrid on June 23rd, the ECDC has published its risk assessment for those travellers. See information here

    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.

    Singapore: 2 more Zika cases in east

    The area that encompasses Highland, Kovan and upper Serangoon Roads has delivered the 2 most recent Zika virus cases (& 9 in all) of the 32 recorded across the city-state this year, according to the National Environment Agency website. 

    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).

    South Africa: Late malaria surge in Mpumalanga; Measles vax campaign for Gauteng

    Malaria notifications in the eastern province of Mpumalanga have spiked this year: 585 compared with 499 over the same April/May period last year. The Bushbuckridge area (which lies ~100kms from the Mozambique border) has been hard hit, reporting 235 local cases including 2 malaria–related deaths over the past 2 weeks. Read more
    A measles vaccination campaign targeted at children aged 2 to 15 years has started in Gauteng province as a response to an outbreak of the highly contagious viral illness that has sickened 17 individuals recently. Most cases were recorded in Johannesburg (13), the remainder in Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. 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.

    United States of America: Hep A in Colorado, California

    Men who have sex with men represent the majority of the 26 Hep A cases reported since the beginning of the year in the US state of Colorado. The number is higher than the average for most years. A news report highlights the Front Range counties on the eastern side of the Southern Rocky Mountains as producing most cases in the current outbreak. Read more. And in California, a Hep A outbreak that is centred mainly on homeless people and illicit drug users has produced 80 cases and 3 deaths in San Diego county. Read more.

    Vietnam: Early start for dengue season

    The incidence of dengue fever is on the rise. Authorities have advised that, year-to-date, there have been 20,947 cases across the country and 8 resulting deaths. Hanoi has experienced an almost 50 percent increase on last year’s figures for the same first 4 months, with all parts of the city affected. Read more.

  • Brazil: YF toll still rising

    The May 2nd Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO yellow fever (YF) update notes that in the states of Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro, there has been no further spread into new urban areas. As with previous statements, the Aedes aegypti mosquito has not been a vector in the YF virus transmission cycle in towns and cities to date; however the presence of infected primates in major cities such as Vitoria in Espírito Santo and Salvador in Bahia adds to the potential for urban transmission. Overall figures up to April 27th now show: ‘3,131 cases of yellow fever reported (715 confirmed, 827 suspected under investigation, and 1,589 discarded), including 392 deaths (240 confirmed, 113 discarded, and 39 under investigation). The case fatality rate is 34% among confirmed cases.’ The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) has published a map showing the locations of locally acquired YF cases and the expanded areas of Brazil now presenting a risk of yellow fever transmission (up to April 26, 2017).

    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

    Canada: Manitoba’s mumps slowing

    Health officials in the province of Manitoba are hoping that the most recent 3-week total of 55 new mumps cases is the beginning of the end of the outbreak that has produced 345 cases over nearly 8 months. The average yearly rate of mumps notifications in the state is usually between 4 and 8. Other provinces reporting mumps cases, but with comparatively lower year-to-date figures, are Alberta (65) and Saskatchewan (34). 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: More bird flu cases, another province affected

    More news on human H7N9 avian influenza cases on the mainland, with a further 17 reported in the week from April 23-29, according to the Hong Kong Centre for Disease Control (CHP) update. The highest weekly total was in Sichuan (5 cases), followed by Beijing, Guangdong & Shandong (2 cases each) and one case each from Chongqing, Fujian, Gansu, Henan, Hunan and Jiangsu. Yesterday, authorities in Shaanxi province reported their first local case of H7N9 avian influenza. Read more in an Afludiary post. As with previous reports, the CHP has advice for travellers to regions with bird flu outbreaks, including: ‘Avoid touching birds, poultry or their droppings and visiting poultry markets or farms when travelling outside Hong Kong. Travellers returning from affected areas with avian influenza outbreaks should consult doctors promptly if they have flu-like symptoms, and inform the doctor of the travel history and wear a mask to help prevent spread of the disease.’ 

    Dominican Republic: Spike in leptospirosis

    New figures released last week indicate an almost doubling of the number of leptospirosis cases over the same 3-month period last year. Of the 200 cases reported between Jan 1 and Mar 31 this year, there have been 20 deaths. Poor sanitation and garbage/waste collection issues leading to the proliferation of rodents are considered likely causes. Read more.

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

    Europe: Hep A cases increasing

    According to the latest ECDC assessment, the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak in the region is not yet contained and more cases are to be expected. The 675 confirmed cases (June 2016 to April 28, 2017) are thought to be an under-reporting of the actual numbers of infections. Since the last update in February, 387 new cases were reported from 10 countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the UK). Over 80 percent of confirmed cases have been in men who have sex with men (MSM). Read more on outbreak and the increased risk of infection among MSM. 

    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.

    Liberia: Unidentified illness under investigation

    Ebola and Lassa fever have been ruled out by local health agencies, as investigations continue into the cause of a mystery illness that has sickened 25 people and killed 11 (according to the WHO) since April 23rd. The first cases were reported in Sinoe County, on the southern coast, and were initially believed to relate to rites conducted at a funeral. Symptoms included vomiting & diarrhoea, fever and headaches. One of the fatalities occurred in the capital Monrovia after a man returned to the city following the funeral; his fiancée has since succumbed to the same illness. Testing of samples taken from victims is underway in the US. Read more.

    Mexico: Tick-borne disease on the rise

    Warnings have been issued on the increase in tick-borne infections known as rickettsioses on the Yucatan peninsula – the location of the popular tourist resorts of Cancun & Playa del Carmen and the famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum. According to a news report, there were 110 cases last year, with 2 deaths in children; this year there have been 10 cases to date. The exact nature of the infections is not identified. Read more about rickettsial infections

    New Caledonia: Dengue count tops 3,200

    New dengue fever cases reduced by nearly one-quarter in April over the March figures (863 vs 1138). The tally for the epidemic that started in early September last year has now hit 3,206 cases. 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 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.

    Nicaragua: Chikungunya updated, Peru’s double hit

    Reporting of chikungunya figures to the PAHO has been intermittent for many countries in the region this year, but in the latest update Nicaragua advised that it has had 317 cases this year, followed by Panama (305 new cases) and Peru (69). Also in Peru, recent flooding has caused a wave of dengue fever cases in Piura, La Libertad, Ica, Lambayeque, Ayacucho, Ucayali, Cusco and Áncash. More than 4,700 people have contracted the mosquito-borne virus but there are another 11,000+ suspected cases across various lowland areas of the country. 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 egypti 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.

    Nigeria: Lassa active in 9 states

    The states of Bauchi, Ondo, Edo, Taraba, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi and Enugu continue to report Lassa fever cases as the outbreak heads into its fifth month. From the 164 confirmed and suspected cases, there have been 68 associated deaths. 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: 2017 Zika cases rise to 30

    Four Zika virus cases with onset over the past 2 weeks have been added to data on the NEA website. They are among the 11 cases reported from 3 sites in the eastern Hougang/Serangoon areas. The 2017 total now sits at 30. 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).

    South Africa: Late Limpopo malaria season

    Recent heavy rains adding to mosquito numbers has in turn caused an uptick in malaria at the end of the peak season in Limpopo province. This year there’s been a surge in cases, with 624 reported since January. 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.

    Taiwan: Planning for dengue-free Universiade

    August is high summer season when locally transmitted dengue fever cases are usually more common, but this year authorities are already planning their preventive measures and responses to any outbreaks during this time as the capital Taipei prepares to host a multinational university athletic event. Athletes from 150 nations will descend on the city to participate in the Summer Universiade and spectator numbers are expected to reach 160,000. Read more.

    Uganda: Rubella spike in north

    Primary school children make up most of the 49 rubella (German measles) cases reported from Kalongo town in the northern Uganda district of Agago. Adults have not so far been affected in the outbreak, however surveillance has been stepped up to prevent the infection spreading to pregnant women, with the added potential for serious complications (foetal death, premature delivery and serious birth defects). Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Rubella is the 'R' component in the triple MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Highly contagious, rubella is spread by airborne droplets and can cause serious birth defects if infection occurs during early pregnancy. Travellers should also check their immunisation status for all childhood diseases, including measles, mumps, tetanus, whooping cough and chickenpox as part of their pre-travel medical preparations.

    United States of America: Aloha to mumps; Imported tuna brings Hep A risk

    Many states on the US mainland have been hit by mumps outbreaks recently and now it appears to be Hawaii’s turn, with 16 cases reported this year on Oahu - 2 of those in the last week. A local news site quotes a health official as saying: ‘It would seem that mumps has been introduced into our community and is potentially circulating more widely.’ Read more.
    ALSO in Hawaii, some portions of raw fish salad, or poke, sold in several supermarkets and convenience stores are believed to contain tuna contaminated with hepatitis A virus. The frozen fish had been imported from Indonesia; the dates of sale of the tainted food are April 28 to May 1st. The Department of Health is advising those people who may have consumed the raw tuna to seek vaccination and monitor their health for symptoms of Hep A infection for 50 days. No confirmed cases have been reported thus far. Read more, including a list of the stores where the salad may have been sold.