Health Alerts
Australia: Bali measles warning

There’s been a spike in measles cases on the west and east coasts this week. In Western Australia (WA), travellers to Bali have been warned to watch for measles symptoms after 4 travellers were infected on the island and subsequently visited GP surgeries and hospital emergency departments in Perth. In NSW, 3 new cases – 1 acquired in Bali – have been reported in the past fortnight and six in the past month, bringing the state’s total for 2013 to 22. Since August, 16 people have contracted measles in southeast Queensland, for a year-to-date state total of 21.

Advice for travellers: Most of the 80 cases of measles recorded in Australia this year were acquired during travel or were travel related. While generally a mild disease, measles can result in severe illness. Highly contagious, the virus occurs in both developing and developed countries and Travelvax recommends Australians travelling overseas check their immunisation status for measles and other childhood diseases (diphtheria, whooping cough, mumps, and polio) 6 weeks before departure.

China: Second cholera case in Hong Kong

A second recent case of cholera has surfaced in Hong Kong. The patient is the son of the first patient and has no recent travel history. Both are being treated in Princess Margaret Hospital. Read more.

Advice for travellers: Cholera is a low risk for most travellers to Hong Kong and mainland China. Vaccination is not generally recommended for short stays in endemic countries. Because the disease is generally spread by contaminated water, strict personal hygiene and care in the selection of food and water is recommended – especially if you are visiting a region where an outbreak is occurring. 

Costa Rica: Dengue at record levels

The national dengue tally has risen to a near-record 41,510 cases, despite a recent decline in weekly reports. The total includes 111 severe infections, but no deaths have been reported. Read more.

Advice for travellers: Dengue continues to spread throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Pacific. Travellers visiting tropical and sub-tropical destinations – especially where active outbreaks are occurring – are advised to take measures to avoid mosquito bites. Apply an insect repellent containing an effective active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, to exposed skin when outdoors during the day, and cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks around dawn and dusk, as well as other times when the day-time feeding Aedes mosquitoes are active.

India: Encephalitis toll rises; Rains prolong insect diseases, gastro

Encephalitis has killed 3 more children in eastern Uttar Pradesh, bringing this year’s toll to 380 from 1869 cases. Read more.
PROLONGED monsoon rains have extended India’s June-September dengue season into October, bringing the number of official cases to more than 38,000, including 109 deaths – the majority in Maharashtra State, according to official national figures.
NEARLY 3,300 dengue cases have been reported in Delhi, although one local doctor said the actual number in the national capital could be 10 times higher. Extended rain has also led to cases of dengue and Chikungunya in the cities of Vadodara and Ahmedabad (Gujarat State), and Chennai (Tamil Nadu). Ahmedabad also reported a recent spike in malaria and gastro cases.

Advice for travellers: The result of prolonged rains, these outbreaks highlight the importance of travellers taking effective measures to avoid food-, water- and insect-borne diseases anywhere in India – even in major cities. While all insect diseases have seasonal peaks, malaria is a year-round risk in both urban and rural areas and bite prevention is important. Travellers to India should also discuss the need for medication to prevent malaria with a doctor experienced in travel medicine 6-8 weeks before departure. For further advice call Travelvax on 1300 360 164.

Iran: Cholera crosses border

More than 200 cholera cases, including 6 deaths, have been reported in 10 provinces. Almost all of the victims were illegal immigrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Read more.

Mexico: Cholera tally surges to 159

The month-long cholera outbreak has reached 159 cases, including 1 death. Contaminated river water is the suspected source of the 145 cases in Hidalgo State, with the rest scattered among the Federal District and the states of Mexico, San Luis Potosi, and Veracruz. The current outbreak marks the first local transmission of cholera in Mexico since 2001, when a 10-year-old epidemic ended. Read more.

Nigeria: North hit by cholera

In the northwest, an outbreak of cholera in Zamfara State has killed 2 people and seen 130 hospitalised. Among those receiving treatment were 32 high school students from Bakura. Read more.

Pakistan: New polio cases; Dengue persists in Lahore

Four more children from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have contracted polio, bringing the year’s total from the region to 31 and the national total to 43. The children had not received the vaccination due to the ban imposed by the local warlord last year. Read more.
AT least 20 new dengue cases were diagnosed in Lahore on the weekend. October rains have extended of the disease’s usual September peak. Read more.

Philippines: Threat of more leptospirosis

Heavy rain from Typhoon Santi last weekend could bring a second wave of leptospirosis infections to Zambales Province (Central Luzon), health authorities have warned. Severe flooding last month resulted in 580 cases, including 12 deaths, in Olongapo City and nearby communities. Read more.

Advice for travellers: While leptospirosis occurs worldwide, it is most common in temperate and tropical regions. The bacteria that cause the disease are spread through the urine of infected animals, entering the body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth) – especially if the skin is broken. Because it is typically associated with exposure to floodwaters, the disease presents a low risk for most travellers.

Russia: Tick disease epidemic

More than 900 cases of tick-borne tularemia were recorded in the Khanty-Mansiysky Autonomous Region last month. Read more about the outbreak and tularemia.

Saudi Arabia: Two new MERS deaths

The WHO confirmed two previously reported MERS-CoV cases - both fatal – on Monday. The cases boost the WHO's MERS-CoV tally to 138 cases and 60 deaths, although other observers quote slightly higher numbers. This year’s total of 1.38 million pilgrims is down 21% from last year's 1.75 million, due partly to a cut in the number of visas granted to foreign Muslims. Read more (WHO).

South Africa: Flu’s final fling

As the southern hemisphere season winds down, South Africa has seen a second, smaller influenza peak, according to the WHO’s latest global update. Read more.

St Lucia: Dengue death, cases spike

One suspected dengue fatality and a spike in the number of recent cases has prompted a warning to the island’s residents and visitors. Read more.

Taiwan: Hep A cases on the rise

Hepatitis A infections are at a 4-year high with 117 cases reported this year. Read more.

Togo: Cholera strikes in capital

An outbreak of cholera has been reported in the capital, Lome and nearby districts of the more densely populated southern Maritime region. The number of cases has not been revealed. Read more.

United States of America: Salmonella outbreak spreads; Bobcat, puppy carried rabies

Salmonella-tainted chicken from California has caused 317 cases in 20 states. Read more.
TWO quail hunters in Arizona have received post-exposure rabies vaccine after being attacked by an infected bobcat. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, 2 adults and 2 children from Laurens County are being treated for rabies after potential exposure via a puppy infected by a rabies-infected skunk.