World travel health alerts 18 December 2019

World travel health alerts for 18th of December 2019.

First locally acquired dengue

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 14 of 40 samples tested positive for dengue in Afghanistan, after health authorities retested the samples following increasing case counts in Pakistan and India. "Of the 14 confirmed cases of dengue fever, seven were presumably autochthonous as the persons had no travel history to dengue endemic countries." These are the first reported cases of locally acquired dengue in Afghanistan. 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.

14 countries reporting polio in Africa

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) increased the polio outbreak travel Alert for 14 African countries. Both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend visitors to infected areas for more than 4 weeks should receive an additional dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV) or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel. The countries are Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Togo and Zambia. In a breakthrough for the eradication of Polio an independent commission of experts concluded during October 2019, that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been ‘eradicated’ around the world. This announcement follows the earlier eradication of wild poliovirus type 2 during 2015. Read more

4th travel related case of rabies

Four cases of imported rabies have been notified in the European Union this year. Norway confirmed one rabies-related death following infection in the Philippines in May this year, while Latvia reported a case in December in an individual returning from India, while in the same month Spain reported a case following travel to Morocco. Italian authorities confirmed the death of a traveller who was bitten by a dog while staying in Tanzania. 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, but also for children, travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies.

Malaria cases but no deaths

So far this year Laos has recorded 5600 cases of malaria, compared to the 8,048 cases nationwide in 2018, this is a reduction of 30.73%. The Ministry of Health reported that no deaths had been reported largely due to the national strategy to eradicate malaria by 2030, with a substantial budget allocated to assist with this goal. Read more

Advice for travellers

For many travellers, Asia 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.

Plans to vaccinate visitors

UNICEF is working with the Malaysian ministry of health to bring polio vaccines to the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, where the country's first polio case in nearly three decades was detected last week. The health ministry confirmed that the polio strain shared genetic links with the virus detected in the Philippines. Read more Ministry of Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah was quoted in the State news agency Bernama, as saying that overseas visitors in the country would be vaccinated in a bid to prevent the proliferation of infectious diseases. Read more

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.

Proof of measles vaccination

Like Samoa, the Australian government website Smarttraveller now advises that Marshall Islands too require proof of measles vaccination, due to the measles outbreak in the Pacific. In order to enter Marshall Islands travellers will need to present either a measles vaccination certificate or a letter from their doctor. This applies for travellers born after 1957 or those who are older than 6 months old. Read more

Three-fold increase in YF

Nigeria is reporting a three-fold increase in the number of yellow fever confirmed cases in 2019 compared to 2018, suggesting intensification of yellow fever virus transmission. Furthermore there have been cases reported in parts of the country that have not had any confirmed cases since the outbreak started in September 2017. From 1 January through 10 December 2019, a total of 4,189 suspected yellow fever cases were reported from 604 of 774 Local Government Area (LGAs) across all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria. Read more

Advice for travellers

ADVICE FOR TRAVELLERS: Yellow fever virus is a mosquito-borne disease found in tropical and subtropical areas in Central/South America and Africa. While it can be severe, yellow fever infection is a very rare in Australian travellers – an effective vaccine is available and strict insect bite avoidance measures are recommended. Under the International Health Regulations (IHR), proof of vaccination may be required of any traveller entering or leaving an area at risk of yellow fever transmission. Read more about yellow fever. Read more

Measles not slowing down

The measles outbreak in Soma has not shown any signs of slowing down, with 74 new cases reported in 24 hours on the 14th of December. As a result the Samoan government has extended its state of emergency on Saturday until the 29.12.19. There have been over 5,100 measles cases reported since the outbreak started in October this year. The outbreak has infected more than 2% of the island nation's population and 72 measles-related deaths have been recorded. Most of those who have died have been under five-years-old, according to the United Nations. Read more

Proof of vaccination

According to reports on the Australian Smartraveller website, the Solomon islands will require travellers entering the country to show proof of vaccination against measles from the 28th of December 2019. Failure to do so may result in deportation or being unable to board your inbound flight. Travellers are advised to bring their official vaccination record with them and to have the vaccine at least 15 days prior to arrival. Read more

Advice for travellers

Measles is a highly contagious virus and can cause serious illness in people of all ages. Most cases reported in Australia are linked to overseas travel - both developing and developed countries. Travelvax Australia recommends travellers check their immunisation status for measles and other childhood diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and mumps 6 weeks before departure. Read more

Raging Dengue outbreak

Sri Lanka is in the midst of a severe dengue outbreak, with 11 districts affected as a result of continuous rain in many parts of the island. There have been at least 120 deaths and more than 87,000 individuals affected across 11 districts in the island country, health officials said on Monday. Read more

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. 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. Read more

Measles exposure, early start to Flu season

Measles: Three infected Los Angeles County residents passed through LAX international Airport last week, Los Angeles health officials have advised, it is unclear how many individuals were exposes to the virus as a result. According to LAX’s website, on average more than 174,000 people travel through Los Angeles International each day on 1,659 flights. Read more Flu: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there has been an early start to the flu season, with numbers not seen since the 2003 -2004 seasons. There have already been 1.7 million cases of flu illnesses reported as well as approximately 16,000 hospitalization and 900 flu-related deaths. Read more Influenza B is still the most commonly detected strain, accounting for 68.5% of flu positives at clinical labs. High levels of influenza B are typically seen late in the flu season. Read more