CDC Zika warning; JE in Maharashtra; SW’s tick-borne infection returns

From a Dec 13 US CDC Travel Notice (level 2, practice enhanced precautions), issued for American travellers in response to the Zika virus outbreak: in ‘Rajasthan and surrounding states. Zika continues to be a risk throughout India… Pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with risk of Zika. This is because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. All travelers to areas with risk of Zika should (1) prevent mosquito bites and (2) use condoms or not have sex to protect against Zika during travel. They should continue to take these precautions after their trip to stop the spread of Zika to others back home’.

A review of Japanese encephalitis cases in the state of Maharashtra this year brings to light news from authorities that cases had more than trebled from 2016 and 2017 and were found in new areas. Only six of the 108 confirmed cases required treatment, the remainder were asymptomatic and were only diagnosed during surveillance activities.

THE FIRST two cases of tick-borne Kyasanur Forest Disease this (dry) season have been reported in Karnataka’s Sagar taluk (Western Ghats). A vaccination campaign for people living in nearby districts has been initiated and authorities are monitoring monkeys in the area as they are common hosts for the infection following bites from infected ticks.

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).  

Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.