Influenza detections across the region have risen since the beginning of the year however, according to Flu News Europe, for the week Jan 6-12 they largely remained at baseline or low levels – the exceptions being high activity in Turkey and Israel, and medium in Ireland, Wales, Latvia and some eastern Mediterranean countries. On a global level, the WHO update which takes in data to Jan 5 stated that ‘seasonal influenza A viruses accounted for the majority of detections’, however more than one third of all infections were due to B viruses (mostly B-Victoria lineage). Flu activity was on the increase in North America (all subtypes circulating), Central (B viruses predominate) and East Asia (overall increase with 3-year high for this time in China and Japan), Western Asia (elevated overall), Central/South America (increased detections in Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia) and SE Asia (continued or increasing levels in Laos, Malaysia and Singapore).
Advice for travellers
Seasonal flu is the most common vaccine-preventable travel-related illness: it’s likely to be found aboard aircraft, in crowded airport terminals, and at your destination. Vaccination is highly recommended and travellers should also avoid close contact with people showing flu-like symptoms, and thoroughly washing hands using soap and water after using the toilet and before eating. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser is a convenient alternative if soap and water is not available.
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.