Health Alerts
  • Brazil: Dengue count nears 200,000

    From national data on dengue fever cases up to Aug 25 this year, the focus is on the central west and south-eastern regions for their high rates of infection. Countrywide, there had been almost 200,000 cases of dengue and 100 related deaths. 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.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Ebola update, more efforts directed at Beni

    Community resistance to medical aid and vaccination is proving to be a concern in the Ebola affected province of North Kivu. More cases have been identified in the large commercial hub of Butembo, with five confirmed and seven suspected or probable to date. The greatest burden has been in Mabalako health zone, but the situation there is considered stable; Beni is now the area of concern. See all details on the Ebola Surveillance Dashboard. Entry screening for arrivals was instituted last month as a regional response to the outbreak – it is underway in Burundi, Central African Republic, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia. 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.

    Honduras: Risk of even larger mumps outbreak

    The most populous department, Cortes, in the country’s NW has seen a surge in mumps cases this year, reporting over 3,700 of the country’s total of 5,500 cases. A health emergency has been declared. According to the health department, nearly 3.3 million Honduran adults have not been vaccinated against the viral illness. Read more

    Advice for travellers: These outbreaks of mumps highlight the importance of current immunisation against contagious childhood diseases, such as whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria, rubella and measles for travel to any destination – be it a developed or developing country. Read more about mumps.

    India: Monsoon effects continue

    Late monsoon dengue and malaria cases have increased by at least two-fold in Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, with senior doctors in Delhi and Mumbai warning residents that it is ‘the peak time for viral fever and mosquito-borne diseases’. Hospitals in Uttar Pradesh are reporting bed shortages as they struggle to cope with rising cases of fever due to influenza, dengue, malaria, typhoid and gastrointestinal illnesses. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: Malaria is widespread in India and occurs year-round in both rural and urban areas, including major cities. Travellers visiting India should discuss their itinerary and the possible need for anti-malaria medication during a pre-travel medical consultation. Read more on malaria in India. 

    Indonesia: Lombok's malaria spike persists

    Malaria cases have doubled this year following the devastating earthquakes, as shortages in mosquito nets cause more people living in shelters and tents to go without adequate protection. A health emergency has been declared as the number of people infected with malaria reached 137. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Travelvax recommends that travellers visiting this region discuss their itinerary and preventative medication with their healthcare provider. For advice, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164. More on malaria

    Israel: Measles menace on flights

    Last month the health department announced that the incidence of measles rose by more than 10-times this year compared to 2017, and in news this week, an undisclosed number of Israeli pilgrims on three flights returning from the Ukraine were exposed to measles after several passengers were confirmed to have the highly infectious illness. The Ukraine has reported over 31,000 measles cases this year. 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. In general the infection is relatively benign, but complications 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.

    Italy: Fewer pneumonia cases, results from tests

    In the wake of the surge in pneumonia cases in Lombardy, testing of cooling towers from buildings in the three municipalities with most cases - Montichiari, Carpenedolo and Calvisano – identified the presence of Legionella bacteria. People with pneumonia infections continue to arrive in hospitals in Brescia and Mantua, but new cases are declining in number. More buildings in the region are to undergo testing over the next few months. Read more. The ECDC reports that many of the cases are elderly, 70 percent are male ‘and report comorbidities including immunosuppression and/or risk factors such as smoking’. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Legionnaire’s disease occurs worldwide and outbreaks have been associated with cruise ships, hotels, and resorts. The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease is found in the airborne droplets of warm, fresh water, such as from fountains, spas, showers and the cooling towers of buildings. Over 50s, current or former smokers, those with a chronic lung condition, and the immunocompromised are at higher risk of developing illness after exposure. Read more

    Macau: Local scrub typhus case

    A teenage girl has been diagnosed with scrub typhus and it has emerged that a local park (Parque Urbano da Areia Preta) in a built-up area might be the source of infection. Advice from the Health Bureau includes ‘avoid wearing clothing that exposes too much skin and apply mosquito repellent’ when visiting parks. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Scrub typhus is a bacterial disease passed on to humans by mites that normally live on rodents infected with the disease. Most travel-acquired cases occur when travellers camp, hike, or go river rafting in rural areas in endemic countries. Scrub typhus occurs throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where more than a million cases occur annually. There is no vaccine or prevention medication: avoidance hinges on minimising insect bites. Due to the disease’s 5- to 14-day incubation period, travellers often experience symptoms (fever, headache, malaise, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and a rash) after their trip. Read more about rickettsial diseases.

    Madagascar: Plague kills four

    Eleven suspected cases and four deaths from three central regions have signalled the start of the annual Aug/Sept. to April plague season, with the government emphasising that it will work to avoid a repetition of the large outbreak which took place late last year. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Plague occurs annually in Madagascar, but poses a low risk to most travellers. Most cases of plague are due to bubonic plague following the bite of an infected flea carried by rats. If left untreated, infection of the lungs causes the pneumonic form of plague, a severe respiratory illness, which can progress rapidly to death. Read more on the plague

    Nepal: Scrub typhus in Terai district

    Over the past two months, the SW lowland district of Chitwan was one of three reporting scrub typhus, along with Nawalparasi and Gorkha. A local news source stated that of 802 people tested, 145 had positive results. Read more

    Mexico: Vallarta takes dengue hit

    The popular Pacific coast tourist destination of Puerto Vallarta has recorded the highest rates of dengue fever infections in the state of Jalisco - only the state capital Guadalajara and La Barca have reported more. Read more

    Spain: Cocktails with bacterial extra ingredient; Bat rabies in NW & SW

    Authorities in Barcelona have warned against consuming Mojito cocktails sold by unlicenced vendors at city beaches after containers used to prepare them were found to be harbouring E. coli bacteria. Several of the containers were found stored in sewers. When consumed, E. coli bacteria (from faecal matter) can cause severe gastrointestinal illness. Read more
    TWO PEOPLE have received treatment after being bitten by bats found to be infected with a strain of lyssavirus. The virus was first identified in bats in Spain in 1987 and in the intervening years, 17 human cases of European lyssavirus of bat type 1 (EBLV 1) have been identified. The two recent cases were in the cities of Valladolid (NW Spain) and Huelva (SW). 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, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas and also for children; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies

    Switzerland: Four cantons with high TBE rates

    This year, confirmed tick-borne encephalitis infections have been more prevalent than in 2017 – about 20 percent more, according to a news report. The year-to-date case count has climbed to 332, with most of those in the cantons of ‘Zurich (59 cases), Bern (48), St. Gallen (30) and Aargau (27)’. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: A viral infection, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) can cause fever, vomiting, cramps and paralysis, which can be prolonged. In rare instances, infection can be fatal. Travellers who spend time in regions where TBE is endemic – mainly forested areas of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Northern China, and Mongolia – may be at risk. The highest risk is during the warmer months from April to November, especially when hiking or camping in areas below 1500m. While safe and effective vaccines are available in Europe, none are licensed in Australia; however, vaccination can be obtained by a medical practitioner through a Special Access Scheme. Read more about TBE

    Thailand: Dengue toll climbs to 60

    The national death toll from dengue fever infections has reached 60 this year. A senior public health official announced that ‘half of the dengue patients this year were adults, compared to just 10 per cent in previous years’. Read more. In the capital Bangkok, nearly 6,000 people have contracted dengue this year and five succumbed to the infection (from the districts of Din Daeng, Nong Chok, Pathum Wan and Bang Kapi). Read more

    United Kingdom: MMR rates drop

    Despite large outbreaks of measles in nearby countries, vaccination rates against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in two-year old children have dropped again this year and are falling well short of the benchmark 95 percent. Four years of decreases measured by the National Health Service have brought the rates down to 91.2 percent; in London, it is even lower - only 85.1 percent. Read more 

    Zimbabwe: Cholera spreading beyond Harare

    The cholera outbreak is not yet under control. Nearly 6,000 infections have been recorded and the death toll has reached 31 – 30 of those from the capital Harare (the other from Masvingo). The SW suburbs of Budiriro and Glen View continue to be the epicentre, however according to a report published by ReliefWeb, ‘The outbreak has spread from Harare to Chitungwiza, and west to Gokwe and Bulawayo’.

    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

  • Argentina: Sand fly infection strikes southern Yungas

    Last year the Yungas region of the remote NW province of Jujuy recorded 30 cases of the sand fly-borne parasitic infection leishmaniasis, this year there have been more than 100 cases and a provincial legislator is describing it as an epidemic. Four towns (Caimancito, Yuto, Calilegua and Fraile pintado) have been hard hit in the area which forms part of a popular tourist circuit, the Southern Andean Yungas. Read more (translate from Spanish).

    Advice for travellers: Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease spread by infected sand flies and is found in the tropics and subtropics, as well as in southern Europe. There are two main forms – cutaneous and visceral. The former causes skin ulcers, the latter a severe systemic disease that is usually fatal without treatment. Read more on the disease, where it’s found and how prevent it.

    Brazil: Measles remains in Manaus

    The measles outbreak in the capital of Amazonas state, Manaus, is ongoing with suspected cases since February now numbering more than 7,700. Over half of the unconfirmed cases are aged 15 to 29 years of age, however infants under one year form the majority of the confirmed infections. Read more (translate from Portuguese). 

    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.

    Chile: Port city’s hep A cases

    Every fortnight another five new hepatitis A cases are reported in the northern port city of Antofagasta and authorities are putting the blame squarely on food stalls which lack hygiene checks. More than 200 cases of the viral infection have been identified to date. Read more (translate from Spanish).

    Advice for travellers: Hepatitis A (HAV) is a vaccine-preventable viral disease passed on to humans primarily through oral contact with faeces of an infected person. This can occur through contaminated food and water, by handling everyday items and sexual contact. It is a significant risk in travellers to developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that is highly effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    Republic of the Congo: Outbreak response underway

    The World Health Organization (WHO) is assisting in planning a vaccination campaign in response to the recently declared yellow fever outbreak in the large southern city of Pointe-Noire, noting that the risk of local spread is high due to the ‘suboptimal immunization coverage in the affected community’. Moreover, there is the ‘potential risk of spread within the Congo, especially to the capital city of Brazzaville’. 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

    China: No new dengue cases since 4/9

    It’s been a week since any new dengue fever cases have appeared in Hong Kong and the decision on when to re-open Lion Rock Park (where 19 of the 29 confirmed cases originated) is pending. Mosquito surveillance and control measures have been carried out in nearby Wong Tai Sin district. 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.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Ebola toll rises to 92

    Since the last WHO situation report which was released on Sept 5th, cases of Ebola Virus disease (EVD) have increased from 129 (98 confirmed and 31 probable), including 89 deaths (58 confirmed and 31 probable) to 133 cases (102 confirmed, 31 probable) and 92 deaths – these include new cases in the large urban centres of Beni and Butembo. Eight health zones in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri have reported confirmed and suspected EVD cases. 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.

    India: Peak mosquito season arrives

    City authorities in Delhi have warned residents that the peak months for dengue fever are here – September and October – so careful mosquito bite-avoidance measures must be taken.  While in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), it’s malaria that is having the greatest impact after 345 cases were diagnosed in just over a week this month. There has also been a rise in the number of water-borne illnesses in the city. In the city of Nagpur (Maharashtra), three vector-borne infections have struck - malaria, dengue and scrub typhus – but the highest fatality rates have come from scrub typhus. Twelve deaths have been recorded to date.

    Advice for travellers: Scrub typhus is a bacterial disease passed on to humans by mites that normally live on rodents infected with the disease. Most travel-acquired cases occur when travellers camp, hike, or go river rafting in rural areas in endemic countries. Scrub typhus occurs throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where more than a million cases occur annually. There is no vaccine or prevention medication: avoidance hinges on minimising insect bites. Due to the disease’s 5- to 14-day incubation period, travellers often experience symptoms (fever, headache, malaise, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and a rash) after their trip. Read more about rickettsial diseases.

    Italy: Legionella suspected in Lombardy; WNV along Po

    It is thought that Legionella bacteria are behind a spate of pneumonia cases in Brescia and Mantua, in the province of Lombardy. Currently over 190 people are hospitalised and legionellosis has been confirmed in 12 cases, according to a local news source. Authorities believe that the drop in numbers of people presenting at local hospitals indicates the worst of the outbreak may be over. Read more
    NATIONAL data on neuro-invasive West Nile virus infections up to Sept 5th reveal that most of the 365 recorded cases were from regions in the Po valley - Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Lombardy, Piedmont and Friuli Venezia Giulia. There are suggestions from some quarters that the intense surveillance carried out in these areas is more effective in identifying new cases. Highest case numbers were in Emilia-Romagna (87 cases, 14 deaths). Read more. More on WNV in Europe from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) which notes that ‘since it is currently a particularly intense transmission season for West Nile fever, precautionary measures for travellers and residents, mainly elderly and immunocompromised individuals, to affected areas must be highlighted’. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: Most human WNV infections (70-80%) are mild, subclinical or asymptomatic, but around 1-in-150 cases involve potentially severe neuroinvasive disease. The virus is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes, which feed mainly around dawn and dusk. While the risk of infection for most travellers is generally low, those visiting regions reporting human cases, particularly the peak transmission season, should take measures to avoid mosquito bites

    Japan: Rubella case numbers climb again

    According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, another 172 rubella infections were recorded in the two weeks to Sept 2nd, taking the total since January to 362 –a nearly four-fold increase over 2017. A local news report indicated that many of those infected are ‘men in their 30s and older’. Of the recent cases, Tokyo had 28, with other cases in the prefectures of Chiba (11 cases), Kanagawa (8) and Aichi (7). Read more

    Advice for travellers: Rubella is spread by airborne droplets and can cause serious birth defects if infection occurs during early pregnancy. Rubella is the 'R' component in the triple MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, one of the routine immunisations which should be current for prior to overseas travel. Travellers should also check their immunisation status for tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Read more about rubella.

    Malaysia: Dengue fever cases top 51,000

    The state of Selangor has reported over half of the country’s 51,635 dengue fever cases this year. Other regions with high dengue incidence are ‘Kuala Lumpur (4,733 cases), Johor (3,968), Penang (3,487), Sabah (2,266)'. Read more

    Namibia: Hep E outbreak slowing, but not over yet

    The WHO has updated its information on the hepatitis E outbreak, noting some improvement but also admitting that this has happened previously and was followed by another resurgence in cases: for the 12 months to the end of August, there have been ‘a total of 2554 suspected hepatitis E cases and 24 deaths’ (11 were in women who were either pregnant or post-delivery). The region of Khomas has been hardest hit, followed by Erongo, while active transmission is also being reported in Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, and Kavango. 

    Advice for travellers: The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through faecal contamination of drinking water. Infection during the latter stages of pregnancy carries a higher rate of severe disease and mortality. Unlike the Hep A and B viruses, there is no vaccine for this strain, which is especially common in communities with lower levels of sanitation and hygiene. The majority of hepatitis E infections occur in East and South Asia. Read more about the virus and how to prevent it.

    Nigeria: Cholera again on the rise in NE

    Almost 900 cholera cases (and 19 related deaths) have been recorded in the NE state of Borno, the count jumping by more than one-third over the weekend. An outbreak has now been declared after the initial cases were first identified in mid-August. Highly populous central regions with ‘poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions’ have been most impacted. Read more.  A Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) weekly report reveals the extent of the spike in cholera cases this year compared to 2017: ‘Between weeks 1 and 34 (2018), 14,762 suspected Cholera cases with 389 laboratory confirmed and 258 deaths from 23 States were reported compared with 1198 suspected cases and 32 deaths from 16 States during the same period in 2017’. 

    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

    Papua New Guinea: 10th polio case is first for capital

    In a concerning development, a six-year old boy from 5-Mile Settlement in the capital Port Moresby has been diagnosed with polio infection (circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, cVDPV). This latest case, the tenth, is the first for the National Capital District - the remaining cases were in Morobe (3) and two each in the Eastern Highlands, Enga and Madang. According to a WHO representative, the agency is working with partners to aid the government in surveillance and a comprehensive vaccination program which has now been expanded to include children up to 15 years of age. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Polio 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 poliomyelitis

    Reunion Island: No hibernation for dengue

    New dengue fever cases have continued during the cooler months, albeit in much lower numbers – 15 in the last reporting week, taking the year-to-date total to 6,553. Authorities are concerned that the persistence of the viral illness during winter could herald a much larger outbreak during summer. A campaign focusing on anti-dengue measures was carried out this week in schools. Read more (translate from French). 

    South Korea: MERS infection ex-Kuwait

    A businessman returning to Seoul from a 3-week trip to Kuwait has been diagnosed with MERS Co-V and is receiving treatment in hospital. Close contacts, including family members and passengers seated nearby on his arriving flight are under quarantine, and a further 435 people are under ‘passive surveillance’. A rapid response system has been in place in South Korea since 2015 when a 7-month outbreak of MERS killed 38 people infected with the virus. Read more from the WHO

    Sudan: NE state’s chikungunya outbreak

    Mosquitoes are spreading chikungunya in the NE state of Kassala, with ReliefWeb reporting high rates of infection in the capital Kassala, while state-wide case numbers now exceed 6,200. Read more

    Advice for travellers: The symptoms of chikungunya fever are similar to dengue fever and both are transmitted by the same mosquitoes – the day-time feeding Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Acute joint pain with a rash is typical of chikungunya and while fatal cases are rare, painful joints may persist for weeks or months after the acute phase has ended. There is no vaccine or prevention medication; using an effective, tropical-strength repellent to avoid insect bites is the best form of protection. Read more about chikungunya.

    United Kingdom: Not one, but two, monkeypox cases

    A visiting naval officer from Nigeria has been diagnosed with monkeypox while in the UK; it is believed he was infected in Nigeria. Up to 50 people who had contact with him while he was infectious are being followed up. Read more. Within a few days of the first case being announced, a second, unrelated case, also contracted during a stay in Nigeria, was confirmed by English health authorities. The NCDC is assisting public health authorities in England with investigations into the cases. Since September last year Nigeria has reported 262 suspected monkeypox infections, with many of those from southern states. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Closely related to the smallpox virus, monkeypox is mainly found in Central and Western Africa. Rodents are the suspected reservoir, with monkeys and humans as secondary or ‘spill-over’ hosts. People can be infected by eating undercooked ‘bushmeat’ or handling infected animals, making infection a low risk for travellers. Read more on monkeypox

    United States of America: Vax campaign to intercept Hep A

    Illicit drug users and homeless people are the focus of a hepatitis A vaccination campaign in Illinois aimed at preventing outbreaks such as those occurring the adjacent states of Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. Read more 

    Zimbabwe: Harare’s cholera emergency

    Another water-borne illness has struck the country. This time it’s the capital, Harare where at least 20 deaths have resulted from more than 2,000 cholera infections in an area centred on three south-western suburbs (Glen View, Mbare and Budiriro); it has now also spread to a further four provinces resulting in the declaration of an emergency. Residents often have to use ground or bore water due to poor infrastructure and in this case, it appears that a fractured sewage pipe has contaminated water sources in the affected areas. Authorities have advised the use of water purification tablets and enhanced personal hygiene for all residents. Read more

  • Algeria: Arrivals checked for cholera

    A day after a regional news source reported up to four cholera cases undergoing treatment in the NW port city of Oran, passengers from a flight that left the city bound for Perpignan in southern France were given health checks on arrival after a child on board suffered gastrointestinal symptoms. The child and several other passengers seated nearby have been admitted to hospital, results of tests are pending. 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

    China: Protective measures against dengue for schoolkids

    At the start of term next week, schools near Hong Kong’s Lion Rock Park and Cheung Chau, the sites of confirmed dengue infections, will be employing mosquito control measures, limiting pupils’ time outdoors and permitting non-uniform clothing that covers more skin. Insect repellent will also be distributed to all schools. There have now been 28 dengue fever cases since mid-August, ‘the highest number reported in a year since records began in 1994’. 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.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Disquiet over latest Ebola death

    From a summary on the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces published by CIDRAP, including information from the WHO’s Dr Peter Salama, there is concern by aid agencies this week after a person fled from Beni to Butembo after falling ill and subsequently died of Ebola virus disease in the city, which is a large commercial hub. This occurrence has the potential to render containment measures more difficult. There has been resistance from some parts of the community in Beni to the work aid agencies are carrying out. To Sept 4th, there have been 96 confirmed EVD cases, 31 probable and 87 deaths. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: Despite the latest development, the risk of Ebola infection for travellers is still considered to be low. A severe viral haemorrhagic fever found in humans and other primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees), Ebola spreads through families and friends because they come in close contact with blood and infectious secretions when caring for ill persons. Read more about Ebola Virus disease.

    Europe: WNV cases rise to 710

    West Nile Virus (WNV) season continues in many EU countries – the ECDC update on the most recent reporting week notes a further 300 cases from ‘Italy (144), Romania (61), Greece (41), Hungary (38), Austria (8), France (6), Croatia (1) and Slovenia (1)’ and 24 deaths in ‘Romania (6), Serbia (6), Italy (7) and Greece (5)’. The Australian government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller website includes advice on WNV prevention for travellers to Greece.

    Advice for travellers: Most human WNV infections (70-80%) are mild, subclinical or asymptomatic, but around 1-in-150 cases involve potentially severe neuroinvasive disease. The virus is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes, which feed mainly around dawn and dusk. While the risk of infection for most travellers is generally low, those visiting regions reporting human cases, particularly the peak transmission season, should take measures to avoid mosquito bites.

    India: Flood-related illnesses warnings; Dengue, malaria reports

    One result of Kerala’s recent floods has been a rise in leptospirosis, or ‘rat fever’, notifications – to date there have been more than 500 suspected cases and 34 deaths. Read more. Authorities are also on the alert for the emergence of new dengue, hepatitis and measles cases. Read more
    BILASPUR and Solan have been hardest hit in Himachal Pradesh’s dengue fever outbreak, with 2,000 infections recorded. Dengue fever case numbers have risen five-fold over last year in the port city of Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), and by almost double in the wider coastal district. To the immediate north, in the state of Odisha, coastal areas have endured a harsh dengue season, with Cuttack hardest hit. In Maharashtra, Mumbai’s rates of malaria and dengue fever have climbed this year compared to the monsoon months in 2017, reaching a three-month total of 534 dengue and 803 malaria cases.

    Advice for travellers: Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals, typically rats. The bacterium enters the body through the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth, as well as through broken skin. Outbreaks are typically associated with exposure to floodwaters, making leptospirosis a low risk for most travellers. Read more about leptospirosis.

    Mauritius: Measles persists in 5 districts

    The protracted measles outbreak, now in its fourth month, continues with 800+ cases already identified. Five districts have reported higher case numbers - Port Louis, Black River, Pamplemousses, Plaines Wilhems and Grand Port. Over three-quarters of all infections have been in people who had not been vaccinated or were unsure of their vaccination history. The regional WHO report states ‘The age-group 0-4 years are the most affected, followed by the age-group 25-29 years’. Three related deaths have occurred – all were in immunocompromised individuals who were unable to receive the vaccine. 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.

    Myanmar: Snail fever in Rakhine; Rabies strikes southern township

    The WHO is assisting local authorities with plans to monitor, test and raise awareness for schistosomiasis in Rakhine state. Over 800 suspected cases have been detected and a recent outbreak was announced in MraukU and Sittway townships. Read more 
    ONE hospital in Yangon has treated over 5,300 people who had been bitten by dogs, while also reporting 18 rabies-related deaths up to the end of August. A local new report claims that most cases were from Dala township, on the opposite bank of the Yangon River to the capital. 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, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas and also for children; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies

    Niger: Risk of cholera spread to capital

    There are fears that flooding during the current rainy season cause cholera to spread from an outbreak in the Madarounfa, Maradi Commune and Guidan Roundji health districts to the capital Niamey. According to a WHO regional report, over 18 percent of cases have come from the bordering Nigerian states of Zamfara and Katsina (a total of six states are reporting cases). Seven regions in Cameroon are also reporting cholera infections or are on alert. Read more

    Papua New Guinea: Cases of polio climb to 9

    The number of vaccine-derived polio (cVDPV) cases has risen to nine with a total of three from Morobe and two from each of the provinces of Eastern Highlands, Enga and Madang. Of the three most recent cases (from Morobe, Madang and Enga), two had received no polio vaccines and hadn’t travelled, the third, a boy of nine years of age, had been in other areas of Enga province, but his vaccination history was unknown. Read more. Read the global summary dated Sept 5th here.

    Advice for travellers: Polio 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 poliomyelitis

    Taiwan: Local dengue infections increase to 81

    There are fines for failing to report having dengue fever and authorities are pushing this message as they attempt to limit new infections. The national case count rose to 81 this week with another six cases recorded in Taichung (taking its total to 46) and one case in Kaohsiung. New Taipei City has had 26 cases. Read more

    Thailand: Dengue count tops 50,000

    It’s the second smallest of Thailand’s provinces, but Phuket has the fourth highest number of dengue fever infections per capita – the other high ranking provinces are Nakhon Pathom, Phichit, Mae Hong Son and Nakhon Sawan. Currently, the national death toll from dengue fever is 65 from more than 50,000 cases, up by more than half from last year.
    Read more

    Ukraine: Marginal improvement in measles outbreak

    Another 436 people were diagnosed with measles over the last reporting week, but it still represents a reduction by just over 18 percent from the week before. The year-to-date total is now in excess of 30,000 cases and 13 deaths. Highest infection rates have been recorded in the regions of Lviv, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk and Odesa. Read more. While in England - last week’s post detailed measles infections imported into London from the Continent, but the capital is not the only large centre experiencing a surge in cases mostly related to travel to European destinations. Health authorities in Birmingham have advised that the midlands city’s measles notifications have risen more than five-fold compared to 2017. Read more

    United States of America: Salmonella cereal alert not over

    Delaware, Maine, and Minnesota have been added to the list of states reporting salmonella infections from a brand of breakfast cereal. There have now been 136 cases from 36 states according to the CDC. The cereal in question has been recalled - ‘in any size package and with any “best if used by” date’. Read more from the CDC

    Advice for travellers: Salmonella bacteria are typically found in food such as poultry and raw/undercooked eggs and can produce diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most people recover without treatment, although the diarrhoea may be so severe as to require hospital treatment - young children and the elderly are at highest risk of severe illness. Read more

    Indonesia: Malaria adds to quake woes

    Villagers still recovering from Lombok's recent earthquakes are waiting on the delivery of mosquito nets after 32 malaria cases were recorded in Bukit Tinggi and Mekarsari in Gunungsari district, north of the provincial capital Mataram. One local official expressed concern that the malaria was occurring near shelters provided for the survivors. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Travelvax recommends that travellers visiting this region discuss their itinerary and preventative medication at their nearest Travelvax clinic, or with their healthcare provider. For advice, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164. More on malaria