World travel health alerts 6 May 2020

World travel health alerts for 6th of May 2020.

Polio news update

The GPEI reports no new wild poliovirus cases in Pakistan this week, however there were two new circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas). Afghanistan registered one WPV1 case in Laghman province, taking its YTD total to five. In Africa, only one nation recorded any cVDPV2 cases – one single case in Côte d’Ivoire (Gbokle-Nawa-San-Pedro district).

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.

Malaria uptick in first quarter

The rise in the number of malaria infections reported from January to March in north and NE regions has been blamed on heavy rainfall earlier this year – cases are up by around 10 percent compared to 2019. While across the northern border in Angola, cases of malaria in the central province of Huambo also climbed - from 127,000 to more than 150,000 (highest rates in Chicala-Cholohanga, Chinjenje, Londuimbali and Ucuma). Authorities are also managing an outbreak of measles said to be affecting Huambo and Ecunha. Read more

Advice for travellers

Malaria is endemic in many areas of southern Africa. Travelvax recommends that travellers visiting this region discuss their itinerary and preventative measures, including medication, during a pre-travel medical consultation. More on malaria

More YF in valley

Yellow fever cases in Blumenau, Vale do Itajaí, climbed by two over the past fortnight, taking Santa Catarina’s total to 15, six of those in Blumenau. Elsewhere in the state, the towns of Pomerode and Indaial both recorded three infections and one case each in Camboriu, Jaragua do Sul and Sao Bento Sul. Also a dengue round-up from across the Americas with Brazil’s tally of suspected dengue cases nearing 800,000 for the year. Read more

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. However, 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.

Ebola cases climb to 7

The WHO African regional office announced this week that seven Ebola virus disease cases have now emerged in Beni since early last month – ‘four of whom have died, two in the community and two in treatment centres’. Contact tracing and vaccination campaigns continue as in the latest sitrep the WHO noted that all recent cases were linked with a common source, perhaps ‘by direct contact with body fluids of a survivor (asymptomatic or relapse case)’. 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.

Cholera affecting tri-state area

Cholera outbreaks in neighbouring Ethiopia, aided by frequent cross-border travel, have been suggested as the source of more than 100 cholera cases diagnosed recently in Marsabit County, northern Kenya. Another neighbour to the NE, Somalia, has also registered outbreaks (regions reporting active transmission this year - Banadir, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Hiran). Read more

Advice for travellers

Cholera is usually spread in contaminated water. For most short-stay travellers, the risk of infection is low. Australians travelling 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.

Post-cyclone surge in dengue

A further uptick in dengue fever cases has occurred in the wake of the recent cyclone, with as many as 700 cases now registered, mainly in the Western and Northern divisions. A public health campaign is targeting infections prone to emerge after infrastructure damage and flooding (leptospirosis, typhoid, dengue and diarrhoea) which can share similar early symptoms to COVID-19. Read more

Advice for travellers

Dengue is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which 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.

Five states with highest dengue burden

Almost two-thirds of dengue cases reported across the nation over a recent 7-day period were from five states - Veracruz, Tabasco, Guerrero, Jalisco and Quintana Roo. Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, was hardest hit, chiefly in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. 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.

Dengue a downside to lockdown

Warnings from authorities that people under lockdown in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and the seasonal flu must strictly follow precautions against mosquitoes that can transmit dengue fever infection, as the Aedes mosquito vector is commonly found in and around dwellings. Mandalay district is said to be on dengue alert, while other high risk areas include Yangon region and Mon state. 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.

Lockdown adds to disease risk

News this week of measles outbreaks spreading to new areas – Kathmandu, Lalitpur and now Gandaki province. A lockdown introduced to stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections has halted routine immunisation programs, leaving many children at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. 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.

More measles cases, deaths

The country’s protracted measles outbreak, now well into its fourth year, has generated more than 20,000 cases - 119 more were reported last week from across seven counties. More on measles and rubella across the European region from the ECDC. Read more

Advice for travellers

: A highly contagious virus, measles occurs in developing and developed countries. 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.

COVID-19 global recoveries near 1.2 million

The global total of COVID-19 cases now exceeds 3.6 million and almost 1.2 million people have recovered from the infection. What that recovery provides in the way of immunity to future infection is not fully understood, however an infectious disease epidemiologist working with the WHO this week said that what has been suggested as re-infection or re-activation of COVID-19 is actually a false positive reaction caused by viral fragments which are unable to cause infection. Read more.

The May 5 WHO Sitrep provides a global digest, while the situation in the Pacific community can be found in this update.

Britain is soon to release its contact-tracing app after early testing on residents of the Isle of Wight. It joins countries including Germany, India, South Korea and Australia that have already launched apps or are planning their use to monitor the spread of the virus. Read more


In other COVID-19 news:

The public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) declared in late January for the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place after the third meeting of the Emergency Committee - the last one took place in late January (when outbreak numbers stood at 7,794 confirmed cases in 84 countries). In the past week, Tajikistan and Comoros reported their first cases, with Africa now looming as the pandemic’s next epicentre (Africa CDC data).

A commentary posted in Science Direct this week on reports of a COVID-19 case occurring back in late December in France, after samples taken from patients with pneumonia at a hospital in Paris in Dec/Jan were recently re-tested. The person had not travelled, indicating probable community transmission, and fell sick nearly one month before the country reported its first confirmed case. The WHO has now called for more nations to ‘check records for pneumonia cases of unspecified origin in late 2019’ in order to gain a better understanding of the pandemic.    

From the WHO: Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide is devised to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress.

On Apr 29, academics from some of Australia’s leading universities released the Group of Eight Report, ‘COVID-19 Roadmap to Recovery – A Report for the Nation’.