Travel Health Alerts

Shifting disease patterns and outbreaks affect the recommendations and information we provide to travellers during a pre-travel consultation. Each week Travelvax updates the current travel health alerts to reflect those issues which could affect travellers heading to a particular region or country. We do this by scanning the websites of health agencies such as the World Health Organization and the European and US Centers for Disease Control, as well as international news media. Simply click on the point on the map of your area of interest for more details on the current health alert. We also include Advice for Travellers which gives background information and tips. If you have any further questions, of course you can give our Travelvax infoline a call during business hours on 1300 360 164.

World travel health alerts for 12th of August 2020

Dengue uptick reported

After recent updates of the ongoing dengue fever outbreaks in the French Antilles, to the south the island of St Lucia has seen an upsurge in cases which has been complicated by having two dengue serotypes in circulation. Northern, central and eastern districts have been most affected. Nearby nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines has also experienced a slight uptick in dengue reporting over the past two months. Read more

Advice for travellers

Avoid mosquito bites to protect against dengue fever. To avoid biting insects, apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) to all exposed skin when outdoors. 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 also cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active.

Yet more provinces log chikungunya infections

The number of provinces reporting chikungunya cases has risen to 15 (of 25), however just four (Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Takeo) have registered more than three-quarters of all 2,000+ infections. The government is raising public awareness on removing potential mosquito breeding sites such as used car tyres and discarded household containers in order to stem the outbreaks. Read more

Advice for travellers

The symptoms of chikungunya fever are similar to dengue fever and both are transmitted by day-time feeding Aedes mosquitoes. 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.

Wild polio infections climb to 58

The provinces of Khyber Pakhtoon, Punjab and Sindh each posted one wild poliovirus infections as reported by the GPEI last week. With these, Pakistan’s YTD total climbed to 58. While in Africa, circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases were reported in Cameroon (one case from Est province), Chad (a single case in each of Ndjamena, Sila, and Tandjile provinces) and the DRC (one case each from Kwango and Kwilu provinces).

Advice for travellers

Poliomyelitis is a potentially serious viral illness that is spread through contact with infected faeces or saliva. The risk to travellers is generally low, however vaccination is recommended for travel to affected regions and is a requirement for travel to/from some countries. If at risk, adults should have a booster to the childhood series. More on polio.

2 eastern provinces report infections from tick bites

A further increase in Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS) cases and related deaths has been reported since our last post in mid-July, as authorities in the provinces of Anhui and now Jiangsu again warn residents of the risk of infection from tick bites. Read more  

Advice for travellers

SFTS causes symptoms including high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, blood abnormalities and multiple organ failure. There is no effective vaccine and deaths rates among those infected can be as high as 30 percent. Read more about SFTS in China.

Continuing ‘grave concern’ over NW outbreak

Over the past week, the WHO reports a slow but steady rise in confirmed Ebola cases and deaths from across eight health zones. Community-based suspected cases and deaths have also persisted from a number of locations with the outbreak total now at 84 cases (80 confirmed, 4 probable) and 36 deceased. Read more  

Advice for travellers

Ebola Virus disease 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 tourists to the affected countries. Read more about Ebola virus disease.

Malaria cases rise in capital region

National malaria cases have more than doubled over the same period last year, rising from just over 300 to 657, with almost half reported in Los Tres Brazos, Santo Domingo Este - people in their early 20s have been hardest hit. Authorities are also reporting a decline in dengue fever cases, down to 3,369. Read more

Advice for travellers

Travelvax recommends that travellers planning a visit to malarious regions discuss their itinerary and preventative measures, including medication, during a pre-travel medical consultation. More on malaria.

1st dengue case for 2020 in SW

Continental France’s first locally-acquired dengue fever case in 2020 was announced last week: the infection was contracted in mid-July in the department of Hérault in Occitanie region. The woman, who has since recovered, had been staying in a rural area just north of Béziers. Last year, seven locally-acquired dengue cases were reported in the SE (Alpes-Maritimes). The mosquito vector has been established in France since 2004 and is now found in 58 departments. Read more

Advice for travellers

Dengue is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which breed in shady areas close homes and other accommodation. Both 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 oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites. Read more about dengue fever.

COVID-19 cases top 2.2 million

The country’s daily incidence of new COVID-19 cases is now the highest in the world as this week reported cases accelerated past 2 million. More than 50,000 cases were reported daily for the past 13 days and the Aug 10 Johns Hopkins newsletter notes that India could soon top the ‘global record for average daily incidence [67,374 cases] … if it continues along its current trajectory’. The health ministry has announced that more than 1.5 million people have recovered from the infection. Meanwhile, healthcare agencies have the added burden of managing the annual uptick in monsoon-related infections such as dengue fever and leptospirosis. Read more

Other related news:

The US State Department and the CDC have both updated their international travel advisories, trading blanket advice for assessments according to each country’s situation. The CDC has also published a new COVID-19 travel guidance webpage with information regarding pre-, post- and during travel.

The ECDC updated its risk assessment for the region on Aug 10.

The latest news of the COVID-19 vaccine race from GAVI.

And lastly, the Aug 11 WHO Sitrep focuses on suppression of the virus and the need to avoid ‘three Cs - crowded places, close-contact settings and confined and enclosed spaces’, with the message particularly aimed at young people.

Pandemic eclipses dengue status

With all attention on the local COVID-19 outbreak (#7 globally in case numbers), the reported 250 percent year-on-year rise in dengue fever cases has now made the news after it rose to 29,144 cases with 39 related deaths. Cooler weather is starting to bring some relief from infection rates which have hit particularly hard in the provinces of Loreto, Ica, Madre de Dios, San Martín and Junín. Read more

Advice for travellers

Dengue fever is common in most tropical or sub-tropical regions of the world. The virus is spread by daytime-feeding Aedes mosquitoes and to avoid it and other insect-borne diseases, travellers should apply an insect repellent containing an effective active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus (PMD), to exposed skin when outdoors during the day. In addition, cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks around dawn and dusk, as well as other times when the mosquitoes are active.

New record set for dengue

The year 2013 had been Singapore’s worst on record for dengue fever until 2020 arrived with lockdowns, high seasonal rainfall and plenty of mosquito breeding sites in abandoned construction sites. The previous high of 22,170 cases in 2013 has been exceeded with just under five months still to run; 20 people have lost their lives. The YTD total is now nearing 24,000 and the NEA has reported nine consecutive weekly case numbers surpassing 1,000. Read more

Advice for travellers

Dengue occurs both in urban and rural areas, around human habitation. The virus is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which breed in shady places close to dwellings and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid when 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 oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD) when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

Bracing for flu season; Plague death in New Mexico

Distribution of seasonal influenza vaccines is now underway ahead of the Oct-May flu season (peak in Dec/Jan) as the potential for  two respiratory viruses circulating at the same time places even more importance on flu vaccination to reduce the strain on the healthcare system. Read more

NEW Mexico has reported its first human plague death in five years – a young man from Rio Arriba County who succumbed to septicaemic plague earlier this month. Health officials have warned the public to be aware of contact with rodents and their fleas. Plague is found in mostly rural areas of western states. Read more

Advice for travellers

Plague poses a low risk to most travellers. The majority of plague cases are due to bubonic plague following the bite of an infected flea carried by rats. If left untreated, infection of the lungs causes the pneumonic form of plague, a severe respiratory illness, which can progress rapidly to death. Read more on the plague.

More diphtheria cases posted

Diphtheria vaccinations are being rolled out in four central highland provinces bordering Cambodia (Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai and Kon Tum) while reports are emerging of new cases in another province which is to the north and coastal - Quang Tri. The province’s nine most recent cases were children aged between 12mo and nine years. Read more

Advice for travellers

Spread by coughing and sneezing or by direct contact with wounds or items soiled by infected persons, diphtheria is one of the infectious diseases prevented through routine childhood vaccination. It is also a component in the vaccine given to pregnant women for the prevention of pertussis. Read more on diphtheria.