Health Alerts
  • Brazil: YF persists in São Paulo: Hep A in Rio favela

    Two people have died and a third is in a critical condition in hospital after contracting yellow fever (YF) while in the district of Mairiporã in Greater São Paulo. A total of 20 cases are under investigation from Mairiporã, Santo André and São Paulo city. Due to high vaccination rates in the region, most of the people infected or suspected of having YF are thought to have travelled from other districts. Read more (translate from Portuguese).

    A FAVELA in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro is the centre of a hepatitis A outbreak that is mainly affected adults of 20-30 years of age. To date, 75 of the 92 suspected cases have been confirmed. Contaminated water in the favela (Vidigal) is thought to be responsible for the infections. 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: Flu increasing

    The World Health Organization (WHO) global influenza update of Jan 8th has identified a B strain as the predominant virus affecting areas of both the north and the south of China, and also in South Korea. Elsewhere, influenza-like activity was raised in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia; North America (Canada & USA); northern & SW Europe (incl. UK & France); and Western Asia. See the full report with details of the seasonal flu subtypes here

    Advice for travellers: Seasonal flu is the most common vaccine-preventable travel-related illness because it is a potential risk during every stage of the journey. Whether you are travelling within Australia or overseas, Travelvax recommends influenza vaccination if available, and good hygiene (i.e. handwashing and cleaning) for all travellers over 6 months.

    Europe: Hep A spreads

    According to an update from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), the hepatitis A outbreak that started in June 2016 in the MSM community (men who have sex with men) has now affected 24 countries across the region and is spreading into the wider population: ‘A considerable increase in the number of hepatitis A cases caused by the outbreak strain in women has also been observed. This indicates that the outbreak has spilled over to the non MSM population.’  

    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 99%-plus effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    Indonesia: Measles alert; Diphtheria vax campaign extended

    The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel advisory in response to increased numbers of measles cases in returning travellers from areas such as Bali, as reported by various countries including Australia. Other countries identified in the Watch Level 1 measles advisory are Romania, Ukraine, Italy & DR of Congo. Read more.

    SOME adults are also to be vaccinated against diphtheria in the ongoing campaign mounted by the Jakarta government in response to the increase in cases recorded last year in the capital region – this takes the number of residents to be targeted with preventive vaccines to 1.9 million. 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 6 weeks before departure.

    Israel: Rabies in north

    A 4-fold increase in the number of rabid animals detected in northern districts (Gilboa region, the Jordan & Jezreel Valleys, Megiddo and Yokne’am) has authorities voicing concerns on the heightened risk of spread to the human population from both (unvaccinated) domestic pets and wildlife. 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 – especially dogs, the main source of infection. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. Vaccination recommendations are itinerary-specific but include those travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas. Read more on rabies.

    Japan: STI increase provokes govt. response

    With the staging of the summer Olympic Games just 2 years away, the government is tackling a rise in syphilis cases - 5,534 for 2017 up to mid-December, a steady increase from 2010 when 620 cases were recorded. High density prefectures were most affected: Tokyo (1,705 cases), Osaka (788), Aichi (325) & Kanagawa (312). Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium that enters through wounded skin or mucous membranes. You can get syphilis by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Infections can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly with an antibiotic like penicillin. Read more about syphilis and other STIs.

    Kenya: Mombasa’s first chikungunya cases

    An outbreak of chikungunya in Mombasa, first advised last week, has now resulted in at least 40 confirmed cases however hundreds more people are reporting typical symptoms of the infection. 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.

    Namibia: Hep E cases climb again

    A hepatitis E outbreak in the informal settlements of north-western Windhoek, as reported on our post of Dec 21, continues with 214 cases now recorded. Community meetings have been held to discuss the means of stopping the spread of the faecal-oral transmitted virus. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through faecal contamination of drinking water. 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. More than 60% of all hepatitis E infections and 65% of deaths occur in East and South Asia. Read more about the virus and how to prevent it.

    Nigeria: YF in 7 states

    In the latest update from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), over 350 suspected yellow fever cases and 45 deaths have been reported from 7 states (Niger is the most recent) since Sept 12th last year. More than two-thirds of cases have been in the under 20 years’ age group. Definite numbers will be confirmed following laboratory testing of blood samples in Dakar, Senegal.  

    Philippines: Spike in 2 infectious diseases

    Data on measles and rubella notifications in 2017 show a dramatic rise in the incidence of both infections – over 3,500 suspected cases of measles/rubella were reported. Measles increased from 2016 figures by over 250 percent and rubella, 181 percent. 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.

    Reunion Island: New dengue locale in SW

    A new area of dengue transmission has been identified in the past month – at least 8 cases have been reported in Ravine des Cabris, a district of the SW port town of Saint-Pierre. Read more (translate from French).

    Samoa: Dengue cases surge over 2,400

    Children and young adults aged up to 19 years have borne the brunt of the dengue fever outbreak that started in October last year. The case count has topped 2,446 with 5 related deaths to date. The island of Upolu has been hardest hit (Faleata, Vaimauga and Leauvaa). 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 outdoors. 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.

    South Africa: Listeria deaths now at 61

    A poultry abattoir, found to be contaminated with listeria bacteria, has been closed, but the search is still on for the source of the outbreak which experts are now calling ‘the worst on record, worldwide’. There have now been 727 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis and 61 resulting deaths. Read more

    United States of America: More adults contracting mumps

    Still no let-up in the mumps outbreak affecting Hawaii that has now caused 770 confirmed cases in Honolulu (610), Hawaii (108), Kauai (49) and Maui (3) – almost two-thirds of cases are aged 18 years and older. The chief of the Disease Outbreak Control Division has called for adults to be vaccinated, ‘especially for those who live, work, or socialize regularly in crowded settings.’ Measures to avoid crowds and limit close social interaction have also been encouraged. Read more.

    Zambia: Cholera’s curfew

    The government has instituted a curfew in the Lusaka district of Kanyama in an attempt to halt the spread of cholera – the sale and consumption of (potentially contaminated) food and water is banned and daylight inspections had shown none of this activity, however the trade had continued in the evenings. Read more (translate from French). One news report cites the president of Tanzania as saying he is directing border officials at the Nakonde-Tunduma post to deny entry to anyone from Zambia to prevent cholera from being introduced, while authorities in Namibia have stopped the importation of food & water from Zambia until the outbreak is resolved. To the south, in Malawi, a cholera outbreak on the shores of Lake Malawi that started out in November is continuing, with 150 people hospitalised and 4 deaths reported. 

    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.

  • Brazil: Regional health organization YF update

    The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) yellow fever (YF) update of Dec 13th notes the risk of disease in humans remains in areas where infections have been identified in non-human primates (NHP). Up to 40 human YF cases are under investigation from Brasilia (Federal District), Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina among others. Of concern, in an area of São Paulo state where the most recent human cases was identified (early October), transmission rates among NHP were noted to continue during the cooler, low season months. Read the full report here

    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

    India: South’s chikungunya upsurge

    Karnataka’s mozzie woes continue with a rise in the number of chikungunya cases reported this month – up to 30,600 from 20,000 in November. 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.

    Indonesia: Diphtheria cases increase

    One hospital in North Jakarta has seen an almost 4-fold increase in the number of diphtheria cases in the past few days, up to 98, with patients coming from Banten province and across the city. Children make up nearly two-thirds of cases. Read more. More on diphtheria from the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

    Malawi: Cholera in north

    A cholera outbreak, said to be spreading fast in the northern region of Karonga, has sickened at least 22 people and killed 2. The district lies on the western shores of Lake Nyasa, about 50kms south of the Tanzania border. 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.

    Malaysia: Anticipated end of year dengue upswing

    Dengue fever cases have been noted in recent years to rise sharply at year-end in Perak so health officials have warned the public to be alert for mosquito breeding sites and do their part in controlling infection rates. 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 outdoors. 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.

    Mexico: West coast dengue data

    In the west coast state of Jalisco (that includes the resort town of Puerto Vallarta), year-to-date figures have been released on the incidence of dengue fever – 959 cases – and Zika virus infections - 269. Read more (translate from Spanish).  

    Namibia: Windhoek’s Hep E spike

    It was confirmed this week that an outbreak of hepatitis E, a faecal-oral transmitted viral infection, has struck the capital Windhoek. An update on the situation is due today, but so far there have been 26 cases, 8 more are under investigation and there has been one death. The location of the outbreak is in the so-called ‘informal settlements’, a low income residential area comprised mainly of shacks. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through faecal contamination of drinking water. 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. More than 60% of all hepatitis E infections and 65% of deaths occur in East and South Asia. Read more about the virus and how to prevent infection.

    New Zealand: Auckland outbreak now 'an epidemic'

    Mumps cases in Auckland have soared since October leading a group of health officials to label the outbreak an epidemic. Up to Dec 20th, there have been 1,031 suspected and confirmed cases of mumps across the health districts of Auckland, Counties-Manukau and Waitemata district – around 80 percent either were not vaccinated or hadn’t received the full course of vaccines. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: This lingering outbreak of mumps highlights 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.

    Pakistan: Punjab’s chickenpox rise

    Chickenpox cases have surged in the eastern province of Punjab over the past month – 120 cases and one death have been reported. The rise has come earlier in the season than expected - most cases are usually recorded during Spring. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Chickenpox 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.

    Poland: Warsaw region Hep A surge

    To the end of November there have been 663 hepatitis A cases in the country’s largest province, Mazovia, which includes the capital Warsaw. As many as 550 of the infections were in Warsaw. While vaccination against the Hep A virus is often recommended for travel to developing regions, a health official is quoted as saying that ‘People no longer need to travel abroad to run the risk of contracting the illness’. Read more.

    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 99%-plus effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    Saudi Arabia: MERS risk lingers

    It’s now been 11 days without a new MERS Co-V case being reported in the kingdom -  of the 18 diagnosed since the end of October (from 3 separate regions), the latest was on Dec 8th in Riyadh. A World Health Organization (WHO) risk assessment warns that the likelihood of more infections (through direct/indirect contact with dromedary camels and human contact in healthcare settings) remains, as is the risk of exportation of the virus to other areas outside the Middle East. Read the WHO report here

    South Africa: Search for listeria source continues

    The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is providing regular updates on the listeria outbreak that has produced as many as 655 laboratory-confirmed cases this year – provinces with highest case numbers are: Gauteng Province (62%), Western Cape (13%) and KwaZulu-Natal (7%). Testing of patients is still being carried out to determine a source of infection, however early reports from whole genome sequencing suggest ‘a single source of food contamination causing the outbreak, i.e. a single widely consumed food product, or multiple food products produced at a single facility’. Read more.

    United States of America: Hep A update; Mumps cases in Aloha state top 700

    Following a spike in hepatitis A cases in Detroit (Michigan), the city’s health department is planning a vaccination campaign for food service workers and has encouraged owners of food outlets to get their employees vaccinated. State-wide there have been 620 cases in the past 16 months (& 20 deaths) - 86 new cases in the last 3+ weeks. Read more. College students in Chula Vista, south of San Diego (California), have been advised to seek vaccination against hepatitis A as the outbreak affecting mainly homeless people living near the campus, extends. For the 12 months up to December, San Diego has reported over 560 cases and 20 deaths, while Chula Vista, 10kms away, has recorded 17 cases to date. Read more.

    IT’S been almost a week since the number of mumps cases was last updated by the Hawaii State Department of Health – 705 in total, from Honolulu (564), Hawaii (89), Kauai (49) and Maui (3); 19 of the cases suffered complications of mumps infections.

    Zambia: Cholera toll now 25

    The upcoming rainy season is likely to add to the numbers of people suffering from cholera in the capital Lusaka, according to the WHO. This week there have been 50 more cases and the death toll has mounted to 25 since the outbreak began in October. Read more.

    Zimbabwe: More malaria for Manicaland

    The capital of the province of Manicaland, Mutare, has been added to the list of malaria-affected areas and calls have been made for assistance from the local population in destroying mosquito breeding sites ahead of the peak season in February/March. In a local news report, a senior public health official said: ‘Of the 137 deaths recorded in the province, about 45 percent was recorded in Mutare city.’ 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 medication at their nearest Travelvax clinic, or with their healthcare provider. For advice, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164.

  • Australia: Local Men. meningitis C spike

    Immunisation against serogroup C meningococcal bacteria, conferred in a 4-in-1 vaccine, is being offered in Victoria to ‘all gay and bisexual men and MSM (men who have sex with men), from Monday, 11 December 2017 until 30 June 2018’. This public health initiative is in response to 8 cases of invasive meningococcal disease diagnosed since May in Melbourne – most cases were among MSM. Read more

    China: Surge in fever cases

    Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection has alerted ‘parents, schools/institutions and healthcare professionals for heightened vigilance against scarlet fever (SF) as its activity sharply increased last week and has reached a very high level’. Almost 2,000 cases have been recorded for the year to December. Read more about SF.  

    Europe: Measles across 30 nations

    More on the measles outbreak underway across the continent with an update this week from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) confirming 13,726 cases in the 12 months up to Oct 31 this year from 30 countries - Latvia and Malta reported no cases. It was also noted that ‘Of 12,904 cases with known vaccination status, 87% were unvaccinated’. Read the full report here

    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 6 weeks before departure.

    India: Dengue thrives with late rains; Diphtheria in SW

    The end of the monsoons normally brings a marked drop in the incidence of dengue fever, but this year Karnataka has recorded a further 3,000+ cases since October. Read more. And in Kolkata (West Bengal), unseasonal weather is expected to lead to a longer dengue season, taking it well into December.

    THERE have been over 100 diphtheria cases and 12 deaths in the state of Karnataka this year, more than triple last year’s figures. Worst affected districts are Belagavi, Yadgir and urban Bengaluru. Read more Vaccinations are underway in 3 areas of Indonesia in response to the upsurge in diphtheria cases there. Children under 19 years are the focus of immunisation efforts in Jakarta and Banten and West Java provinces. Read more More on diphtheria from the CDC.

    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 outdoors. 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.

    Japan: HFMD at 10-year high

    There’s been a surge in cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) among young children in Yamagata, Ehime, and Osaka prefectures and Tokyo in particular, with a different strain to the one usually seen in the warmer months. Infections with enterovirus A71 have a greater likelihood of producing more severe symptoms. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Parents of young children should be aware of that seasonal epidemics of HFMD occur throughout Asia. The virus mainly affects young children and symptoms include fever, oral lesions, and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. There is no vaccine or preventative medication, but good hand hygiene will greatly reduce the risk of infection.

    Kenya: Cholera in capital, camps

    In an update on cholera in Kenya issued by the WHO this week, two main concerns were raised: there is a cycle of continuous transmission with ~70% of cases from the highly populous capital county, Nairobi (many of the remainder occurred in refugee camps), and ‘previous outbreaks have shown that cases increase during the rainy season, which has started recently’. In summing up: ‘WHO encourages travellers to the affected area to take proper hygiene precautions to prevent potential exposure’. Read more

    Madagascar: Endemic plague in central region

    According to a local news report, the plague outbreak is now in its endemic phase with several months of the annual peak incidence to run. New cases have been identified in the central highlands above 800m in altitude. Read more (translate from French). 

    Niger: Dry season brings early disease threat

    An epidemic of meningococcal meningitis was declared on Dec 12th in the south-central region of Zinder, bordering Nigeria. Sub-Saharan areas of the country lie in the ‘meningitis belt’ of Africa, where epidemics occur sporadically during the dry season months. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Meningococcal meningitis is an acute bacterial disease transmitted from person-to-person through close (kissing, sharing eating utensils) or extended contact. Risk factors include extensive travel in crowded conditions or extended contact with local people in crowded places. Niger lies in North Africa’s ‘meningitis belt’, where meningitis outbreaks occur in the dry season (Dec-April) and just prior to the rainy season (May-June). If you plan to visit this region, call Travelvax Australia’s free travel health advisory service (1300 360 164) for further advice. Read more about Men. meningitis.

    Nigeria: Plans to tackle YF

    Up to 1 million young children are to be targeted in a reactive vaccination campaign against yellow fever planned for the states of Kogi, Kwara and Zamfara. 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.

    Samoa: Dengue surge most acute on Upolu

    ReliefWeb has published a government report on the dengue fever outbreak – ‘a cumulative total of 1,522 clinical and confirmed cases with 339 hospital admissions were recorded as of December 3rd. There have been 4 dengue related deaths recorded.’ Highest attack rates are in Apia Urban Area and the districts of Vaimauga and Faleata.

    Singapore: Dengue active in 3 clusters

    Dengue fever cases are about one-fifth of last year’s figures as of December – 2,627 compared with 12,500 for 2016. Currently there are 3 active clusters – one producing most cases is situated around several housing blocks on Bedok Reservoir Road. Read more. Phase 1 field studies trials on the use of Wolbachia bacteria on the dengue vector, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, have shown promise but more are planned to gauge the full effect on ‘Singapore’s high-density and high-rise urban landscape’. Read more

    Tanzania: Cholera emerges near southern border

    Up to Dec 2nd, cholera infections in the southern region of Ruvuma (bordering Mozambique & Lake Malawi) have led to the deaths of 8 people and hospitalised another 185. 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.

    Thailand: Flood conditions in south; Road toll first

    Recent heavy rains have led to devastating floods in 8 southern provinces and caused the drowning deaths of at least 15 people in Songkhla, Kanchanaburi & Nakhon Si Thammarat. The rains are expected to end mid-December. Read more During the flood conditions, residents of Nakhon Si Thammarat province have been warned of the increased risk of leptospirosis – 8 cases have already been diagnosed. Read more

    A GLOBAL survey by World Atlas has placed Thailand in highest ranking for road toll statistics – an average of 50 to 60 people die every day in road traffic accidents. Eight of the list’s top 10 countries are in Africa (Malawi, Liberia, DR of the Congo, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Mozambique & São Tomé and Príncipe). Read more   

    Tonga: Mumps cases top 1,600

    Suggestions from some politicians that the current mumps outbreak was imported from New Zealand with returning World Cup players have been refuted by the health minister. The first cases were identified in March, well before the competition. The current case count has reached 1,600 infections across the kingdom. Read more

    Advice for travellers: This lingering outbreak of mumps highlights 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.

    United Kingdom: Five measles outbreaks

    Surrey and Manchester have been added to the list of cities reporting measles cases (Leeds, Birmingham & Liverpool), bringing to 70 the number of infections notified to authorities - none of the current cases were fully vaccinated. According to an immunisation specialist at Public Health England, the outbreaks ‘are linked to ongoing large outbreaks in Europe’. Read more

    United States of America: Flu on the rise; Zika warnings in Texas counties

    According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 7 states are reporting widespread influenza activity – Arkansas, Louisiana, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, Oklahoma and Mississippi. Influenza strain A (H3N2) is responsible for the majority of the infections to date.  The WHO global influenza update published on Dec 11 also noted increased flu activity in Qatar, Oman, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and northern China.

    DISTRICTS of southern Texas, near the Mexican border, remain on alert for Zika virus infections after a case was recently identified in Hidalgo County. 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 information on smartraveller (DFAT).

    Vietnam: Measles cases climbing

    Dengue fever cases are finally on the decline, following the annual cycle of infections, but with the cooler weather comes a spate of vaccine-preventable diseases. Measles is spreading – around half of this year’s total were diagnosed in the past 2 months alone. Department of Health advice to the local community is to ensure good personal hygiene, isolate measles cases and appropriately vaccinate. Read more

    Zambia: The rise, fall and rise of cholera

    Lusaka’s cholera outbreak continues, with the total number of cases over the 2 months climbing to 575 and 15 deaths – after a drop in cases for a 4-week period from mid-October, numbers have started to rise again. Read more