Health Alerts
Angola: Malaria spirals in 3 provinces

Malaria is the biggest killer in Angola and even so, the outlook for this year is predicted to be severe - the provinces of Cuanza Norte, Bengo and Huambo are already experiencing malaria epidemics. The national toll rose to 3,835 deaths from over 1.5 million cases for the year. Read more (translation required).

Advice for travellers: For many travellers, Africa presents a significant malaria risk. Travellers can discuss their itinerary and the need for anti-malaria medication with a trained travel health professional at their nearest Travelvax clinic. For details call 1300 360 164. Read more about malaria

Argentina: Late dengue surge

Authorities are hoping for cooler weather which would reduce the activity of dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes. A local news source puts the number of cases in the province of Misiones as 63 confirmed, 18 probable – nine cases have been diagnosed in Puerto Iguazú, situated near the Falls, and 169 in the capital city of Buenos Aires. Read more (translation required). 

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.

Cameroon: Viral disease spreads in 5 regions

Five health districts, located across different compass points, have reported either confirmed or suspected Monkeypox infections - Njikwa, Akwaya, Biyem-Assi, Bertoua and Fotokol health districts. The most recent World Health Organization (WHO) update states there have been 16 cases, an increase of nine from the last report. The latest assessment judges that the risk of spread from the remote areas is limited. WHO factsheet on Monkeypox.

Advice for travellers: Closely related to the smallpox virus, monkeypox is mainly found in Central and Western Africa. Rodents are the suspected reservoir, with monkeys and humans as secondary or ‘spill-over’ hosts. People can be infected by eating undercooked ‘bushmeat’ or handling infected animals, making infection a low risk for travellers. Read more on monkeypox from the CDC. 

Chad: Measles toll climbs

An epidemic of measles is unfolding in the districts of Bokoro, Gama, Ati, Am dam and Goz Beida – the death toll sits at 18 from 474 infections. International aid agencies are working in the area, vaccinating up to 75 percent of children who are currently unimmunised. Read more

Advice for travellers: Measles occurs in developing and developed countries and unvaccinated travellers are at particular risk, both in transit and during their stay. 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 at least 6 weeks before departure. Read more about measles.

Democratic Republic of Congo: More Ebola, but progress made

As reported by the health ministry in an update on the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak, up to June 5th there have 60 cases of haemorrhagic fever (37 confirmed, 14 probable, 9 suspected). An additional six suspected cases have been identified (from Bikoro, Iboko & Wangata), three of whom were contacts of previous cases. Over 1,500 people have received the vaccine and a number of local traditional healers were invited to participate in an awareness campaign to learn of the need for strict hygiene measures.  According to a senior WHO official, Dr Peter Salama, ‘115 points of entry have been listed and mapped and 30 prioritized for implementing Ebola prevention, detection and control measures.’

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

Fiji: Men C death toll rises

This year’s death toll from meningococcal meningitis has risen to five this week following the death of a 22yo woman in Labasa; she was a nursing student. Read more. Vaccination of all children from one to 19 years of age is still underway – by the end of May up to 45,000 Meningococcal C vaccines had been administered. Read more 

Advice for travellers: Advice on the prevention of meningococcal infection, as stated on the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services website, includes: Practicing good hygiene such as covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and washing hands; don’t share utensils, cups/glasses, drinks at social gatherings, cigarettes, or kava bowls. If planning travel to Fiji, discuss whether vaccination against meningococcal meningitis would be appropriate for your itinerary with your travel doctor. Read more about Men. meningitis.

Grenada: Dengue, diarrhoea upsurge

Dengue fever and diarrhoeal disease have struck the Spice Island. To date this year there have been 140 dengue infections (PAHO data), and health authorities have advised there is currently an increase in gastrointestinal illness being observed, particularly in the large eastern parish of St Andrews. Read more

Honduras: Dengue fever cases top 3,600; Zika rating changes in region

The health minister announced that there had been no dengue-related deaths this year, but over 3,600 infections have been confirmed with as many as 122 of those classified as severe. The northern department of Colón has been affected, together with the capital, Tegucigalpa, and the urban centres of San Pedro Sula, Puerto Cortes, Olancho and El Progreso. Read more (translation required).The UK government travel health site Travelhealthpro has advised this week that Nicaragua is now categorised as high risk for Zika infections, while the Netherlands Caribbean islands is now moderate risk as ‘previously some islands in this group were classified as high risk’. 

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).

India: Nipah, dengue, JE updates

Measures to contain the Nipah virus disease outbreak now include home detention for over 2,000 people who have had contact with sick individuals in the Malabar district. The latest figures from the state Directorate of Health Services: 18 confirmed cases (10 suspected) and 16 confirmed deaths (one suspected). Read more. The monsoon season is intensifying and along with it, the incidence of mosquito-borne infections. Reports this week from Pune (Maharashtra state), Mangaluru (Karnataka), Solan (Himachal Pradesh) and Kozhikode (Kerala).

Advice for travellers: Fruit bats (flying foxes) are the natural hosts of Nipah virus, and females shed the virus when pregnant or lactating. The fruit-eating bats perch on the jars used for collecting juice from palm or date trees, contaminating the juice with infected saliva and droppings. People are infected when they drink the raw juice, although it is also spread through person-to-person contact. In Bangladesh, Nipah generally occurs between December and April. More on Nipah virus

Malaysia: Sarawak’s 10th rabies death; HFMD outbreaks; Dengue cases top 26,000

Five districts of Sarawak are under a rabies alert this week as another rabies-related death was recorded in Serian. The young woman was bitten by a dog late in April but had not received the appropriate follow up treatment and vaccines. Hers is the 10th death in the state since July last year. Read more
SABAH’S capital, Kota Kinabalu, is top of the list of HFMD cases in the state, one of eight municipalities reporting outbreaks. This year has seen increased case numbers across a wider area than for the same period in 2017. Read more
OF THE 26,209 dengue cases recorded for the year, Selangor has fared worst (14, 525 cases), followed by Johor (2,315) and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (2,015). 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. If bitten or scratched, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. Vaccination is normally recommended for longer stays, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas and also for children; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies

Mauritius: Measles count nears 200

Measles case numbers had climbed to 192 by Tuesday in areas including Port-Louis, Roche-Bois, Baie-du-Tombeau and Pointe-aux-Sables. Vaccination campaigns have been carried out in government schools and will follow in private institutions. Read more (translation required). 

Pacific: Regional dengue data

Wallis has now reported 139 locally-acquired cases of dengue from the districts of Mua, Hahake and Hihifo, while Futuna has had one only. The cumulative total sits at 151 as it includes imported cases from New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Read more (translation required). In other regional dengue reports as published by ReliefWeb: Kiribati, for the two months to May 25, 472 dengue-like illnesses. Ongoing dengue outbreaks in Fiji and Vanuatu. Elsewhere - of the 1,412 cases recorded in New Caledonia to the 4th of June, 436 were from the capital Noumea.  A late wet season in Australia’s tropical north (Qld) is thought to be one of the reasons behind a single case of dengue identified in Mareeba, situated in the hinterlands near Cairns. This is the area’s first dengue case in over a year. Read more 

Slovakia: Measles in east

It is believed that measles imported from the UK is the source of the 22 suspected and confirmed infections that have spread in the district of Michalovce, on the shores of Lake Sirava in the country’s east. Read more

Taiwan: JE peak brings 2 more cases

The number of Japanese encephalitis (JE) cases recorded has increased to five, with two more cases from Kaohsiung City and Chiayi County. According to the Centers for Disease Control, ‘All 5 cases live in a high risk environment where there are vector breeding sites nearby.’ The peak of the JE season each year is June to July, however the infections can occur from May to October. Read more

Advice for travellers: On average, 24 cases are recorded each year in Taiwan, mainly in the south from May to October, but peaking in June and July. Cases typically occur in rural, rice-growing areas where people live near the host animals, pigs and wading birds. While it is a low risk for most travellers staying in urban areas, expats and travellers spending extended periods in agricultural areas of Asia should consult their travel doctor about recommendations for vaccination. Read more about JE.

Tanzania: Disease hike following floods

Contaminated water and the local community’s lack of attention to hygiene are behind the cholera outbreak in the western district of Sumbawanga that has sickened nearly 400 people and killed 15. Read more

Advice for travellers: While the risk of infection with cholera is low for short-stay travellers, Australians travelling to regions where an outbreak is occurring should adhere to strict personal hygiene and choose food and beverages with care. For further advice, call Travelvax Australia’s travel health advisory service (1300 360 164).

Thailand: Dengue rates rise

A relatively sparsely populated area of the capital is the site of the first dengue fatality this year - Nong Chok in the city’s east. Overall Bangkok has recorded almost 2,500 dengue fever cases this year. Five other districts are being monitored for dengue infections, including inner city locations. Read more. Country-wide, there have been over 5,600 dengue fever cases and four related deaths. Phuket has the highest infection rates per capita. In neighbouring Myanmar, over 2,300 dengue fever cases were recorded in the first five months of the year. Advice from a recent assembly of local experts in the Yangon region is that the mosquito-borne infection is now year-round. Read more