World travel health alerts 18 August 2021

World travel health alerts for 18th of August 2021.

COVID-19 update

The Aug 17 WHO epi update outlined the countries logging the greatest increase in new cases over the reporting period: the USA and Iran (nine percent rise each), with CIDRAP reporting this week that cases in the US are ‘back to pre-vaccination levels’ as the impact of the Delta variant is being felt the most in areas with low vaccination rates. On a regional level, increases in the Western Pacific (14 percent, with the largest proportionate increases in cases and deaths in Australia, French Polynesia, Japan, Philippines and Republic of Korea) and the Americas (eight percent, with the biggest hike in weekly incidence in Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Guadeloupe) added to the rising global trend seen over the past two months.

Dengue an added burden for health system

A rise in dengue fever cases is adding more stress to the nation’s healthcare system which is struggling with rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. The country’s capital of Dhaka has reported the majority of the dengue infections which have surged since the beginning of this month. Hospitalisation rates are also high, with more than 6,600 admissions this year, although that figure is said to be an underestimation. Elsewhere, dengue and chikungunya cases are on the rise in the Indian state of Maharashtra, reflecting the annual spike seen during and after the monsoon season. 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.

Initial confirmation of imported Ebola case (updated)

Last month, the Ministry of Health confirmed that a person who entered the country by road from Labé in Guinea’s Fouta Djallon region on Aug 11 had Ebola virus disease. The infected woman was initially hospitalised in Abidjan with a fever and the initial confirmation of Ebola was received on Aug 14. Vaccines were sourced and were being given to frontline health workers, border security personnel and patient contacts.  The WHO issued a statement on Aug 14 noting that no link between this case and the recent outbreak in Guinea had been found and later announced that Ebola virus had not in fact been detected from the woman's tests. Read more. Post updated on Sept 1, 2021

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.

VD polio in 3 states, global digest

The GPEI’s weekly round-up of polio cases centred on cVDPV2 again, with Nigeria’s three cases coming from the states of Kebbi, Nasarawa and Rivers, while Mali reported two cases (Mopti and Sikasso) and Ethiopia recorded a single case in Oromiya. In other polio news, Uganda has declared a public health emergency over the recent detection of cVDPV2 in environmental samples from the Kampala neighbourhoods of Bugolobi and Lbigi. The virus strain isolated from Kampala has been linked to an outbreak in Sudan. Across the country, reactive immunisation campaigns are planned for October and December, while environmental surveillance and monitoring for acute flaccid paralysis cases have also been ramped up.

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.

Chickenpox out and about in Auckland

Auckland’s public health agency has alerted residents to a ‘handful’ of chickenpox cases in the region and issued a reminder that the varicella vaccination is available for young children at the age of 15 months. Read more

Advice for travellers

Chickenpox (varicella) is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Mainly passed from person to person by coughing or sneezing, it causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. While the illness is generally mild in children, it can be more severe in young babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Read more about chickenpox.

Cholera spreads to new region

The previously reported cholera outbreak that seeded from neighbouring districts of Nigeria is now reported to have spread from the regions of east Zinder, Maradi and Dosso to Tahoua in the department of Konni. Similar outbreaks have occurred over the past three years, with infections transmitted through the movement of cross-border populations. Read more

Advice for travellers

Cholera is usually spread in contaminated water. For most short-stay travel, the risk of infection is low. Travellers to regions where a cholera outbreak is occurring should adhere to strict personal hygiene guidelines and choose food and beverages with care. Read more about cholera.