World travel health alerts November 22, 2023

World travel health alerts for 20th of November 2023.

WHO and CDC warn of rising cases and deaths from measles

WHO and CDC stated with ongoing declines in measles vaccination, cases in 2022 rose by 18%, and deaths were up 43% globally compared to 2021. Last year, 37 countries reported large or disruptive outbreaks. The African region reported 28 outbreaks, 6 outbreaks in the Eastern Mediterranean, 2 in South East Asia, and 1 in Europe. 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.

Dengue outbreak doubles from last records

Bangladesh is currently suffering from it’s deadliest outbreak of dengue fever ever recorded. In 2023, 223,564 cases which include 1,086 deaths from dengue, have been reported. Previous records show 2019 dengue outbreak the highest with 101,354 confirmed cases and 164 confirmed deaths. It’s a deadly trifecta: Dengue fever, the climate crisis, and a fragile healthcare service in Bangladesh. 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.

8 cases of Zika virus confirmed in Thalassery city, Kannur district, Kerala

The district medical officer and a rapid response team have visited the area intensifying preventive measures and education. Pregnant women with any symptoms have been requested to report to healthcare services and healthcare workers have been advised to monitor any patients who may present with symptoms of Zika virus disease. Read more

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 more about Zika virus through healthdirect.  

Snakebites rates are highest in the world

India reports the highest numbers of snakebite deaths in the world, predominantly in the rural areas around agricultural fields. Indian institute of science states many anti-venoms are not effective or not available and there is a need to continue developing new snake ant-venom strains. Read more

Advice for travellers

While waiting for medical assistance, you may follow these steps:

  1. Keep a safe distance from the snake if it is still in your vicinity.
  2. Remain calm to reduce the spread of venom.
  3. Remove any jewellery or tight clothing to avoid swelling of the bitten area.
  4. Do not apply ice on the wound.
  5. Pressure bandage the limb if available.

In India polyvalent ASV is only available, It is effective against all the four common species; Russells viper (Daboiarusselii), Common Cobra (raja naja), Common Krait (Bungaruscaeruleus) and Saw Scaled viper (Echiscarinatus).

Warmer waters increase Vibrio Vulnificus bacterial disease

Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus), is a rare flesh-eating bacteria from the same family as the bacteria that causes cholera (V. cholerae). The bacteria can cause life-threatening wound infections and approximately 1 in 5 infected die from the disease. The bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked seafood, saltwater, and brackish water.

Markedly increased cases have been reported in the last few decades due to the rising temperatures, with the death of more than 12 people this year. Read more

Advice for travellers

You can reduce your chance of getting a Vibrio wound infection by following these tips:

  • If you have a wound (including from a recent surgery, piercing, or tattoo), stay out of saltwater or brackish water, if possible. This includes wading at the beach.
  • Cover your wound with a waterproof bandage if it could come into contact with saltwater, brackish water, or raw or undercooked seafood and its juices. This contact can happen during everyday activities, such as swimming, fishing, or walking on the beach. It could also happen when a hurricane or storm surge causes flooding.
  • Wash wounds and cuts thoroughly with soap and water after they have contact with saltwater, brackish water, raw seafood, or its juices.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) putting a strain on hospitals

Hospital emergency departments are filling with patients contracting RSV in Georgia, Texas and some other states, with cases likely to rise further across the country, as reported by the CD. Read more

Advice for travellers

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious. Infants and older adults are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. Vaccines are available to protect older adults from severe RSV. Preventive options are available to protect infants and young children from severe RSV. Read more

7 airports across the USA will survey and sample international travellers

Surveillance for respiratory illness has been implemented into seven airports across the USA to test for and track new SARS-CoV-2 variants. The nasal samples are collected voluntarily from arriving international travellers. The Centre for disease control (CDC) traveller surveillance program recently provided early detection of the BA.2.86 variant in a traveller from Japan. Read more

Advice for travellers

Viruses that cause colds, flu, and other respiratory infections can spread from person to person. To protect yourself and others from germs:

  • Wear a mask in public places.

  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your elbow. Don't use your hands. Throw the used tissue away. Always wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Wash your hands often with clean, running water and soap. Scrub them for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you don’t have access to soap and water.

  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. This may help you keep germs out of your body.

  • Stay away from other people with respiratory infections. Also limit close contact with others if you are sick. Avoid crowds during flu season.

Cholera outbreak - state of emergency declared in Harare

The cholera outbreak has resulted in more than 7,000 suspected cases and has caused dozens of deaths. The city authorities state the disease is spreading throughout the city and have declared a state of emergency in the capital Harare. 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. For those at higher risk, an oral cholera vaccine is available. Read more about cholera.