Health Alerts
  • Bangladesh: Hep E in port city

    An outbreak of hepatitis E in the SE coastal city of Chittagong has sickened more than 300 people in the past three months and caused a number of deaths. The source of the outbreak is believed to be contaminated water supplies. Read more

    Advice for travellers: The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through faecal contamination of drinking water. The virus is found worldwide, mainly in communities with low levels of sanitation and hygiene. There is no vaccine. More than 60% of all hepatitis E infections and 65% of deaths occur in East and South Asia, with up 1-in-4 people in some age groups having been exposed to the virus. Read more about the virus and how to prevent it.

    Brazil: Warnings of mozzie-borne illnesses

    Dengue fever and Zika virus infection rates rose in the early part of the year in the NE state of Pernambuco and there is concern that the abundance in Aedes mosquito populations (the vectors of dengue, chikungunya and Zika) could lead to a more extensive outbreak. Almost half of all municipalities (80 of 185) have reported large mosquito infestations. Read more (translation required). While in the southern state of Paraná, of the 900 dengue fever cases recorded since August last year, 165 cases (and two deaths) were locally acquired infections in the city of Foz do Iguaçu, the tourist centre for visiting the famous Iguaçu FallsRead 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.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Ebola, cholera outbreaks

    Latest news on the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak from the health ministry: 57 cases (38 confirmed), 15 probable and 4 suspected cases. Three new suspected cases have been identified in Bikoro; and at midnight on June 27, the last of the 1,706 previously identified contacts of confirmed cases were removed from a surveillance and limited movements list.
    NINE health districts in the central province of Sankuru have again reported cholera infections after a 3-month lull. A further 256 cases and 43 deaths have been reported this month. Read more (translation required).

    Advice for travellers: Ebola 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.

    Fiji: Results from typhoid study

    A study partnered by New Zealand’s University of Otago has determined that the rise in the incidence of typhoid fever in both urban and rural areas of Fiji over the last ten years is primarily due to ‘consumption of contaminated surface water and unwashed produce’. In the article, Co-Director of the Otago Global Health Institute, typhoid fever expert Prof John Crump, says that ‘Oceania is now the global region thought to have the highest typhoid fever incidence.’ Read more 

    Advice for travellers: Typhoid occurs in some Pacific countries, although it presents a low risk for travellers staying in hotels or resorts. Travellers should follow safe food and water guidelines, and personal hygiene practices. Vaccination is generally recommended for travellers staying in rural areas, as well as for adventurous eaters, however finall recommendations are itinerary-specific. Read more about typhoid fever.

    France: Second measles death

    New measles case numbers have stabilised since early May - down to around 50 per week. The total for the outbreak since its onset in November now sits at more than 2,500. This week Santé Publique France announced another death from measles complications, the second this year – neither victim was able to be vaccinated because of their immunosuppressed condition and were likely to have contracted the virus from a non- or under-vaccinated individual. According to the agency’s measles weekly bulletin, 22 percent of measles patients have required hospitalisation. Across the Channel, authorities in England and Wales are asking those young people travelling to the Continent to ensure they have received the full course of measles vaccinations.

    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.

    Germany: Bumper year for ticks

    Early modelling had shown that this year would become a peak in the cycle of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) infections, with the southern states and in particular, Bavaria, most affected. Castor bean (Ixodes ricinus) tick numbers have been increasing across the country, reaching a 10-year high this year. TBE cases in the south have exceeded last year’s record high figures - the advice for residents and travellers at risk is to consider vaccination and take appropriate measures to avoid tick bites. Read more

    Advice for travellers: A viral infection, 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. VACCINE: While safe and effective vaccines are available in Europe, none are licensed in Australia. However, vaccination can be obtained through a Special Access Scheme. Read more about TBE.

    India: Trio of monsoon-related infections rise

    The SW state of Kerala gets the first of the monsoon rains in June, leading to early reports of the diseases associated with rain and mosquitoes, including dengue fever and leptospirosis. To the north in Mumbai, dengue and leptospirosis are also in the local news headlines, while in Delhi, ‘malaria was spreading faster than dengue’. An alert has been issued for the low hills districts of the northern state of Himachal Pradesh after several cases of Japanese encephalitis (JE) were reported from Solan district. Read more

    Advice for travellers: A mosquito-borne virus, JE is usually found in many part of Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China, although cases also occur in Indonesia and PNG. It is mainly found in rural areas around rice paddies where pigs, wading birds and humans live closely together, however it does also occur in or near cities. The risk to short-stay travellers who confine their travel to urban centres and use appropriate mosquito bite avoidance measures is low. The recommendations for vaccination are itinerary-specific. Read more on JE

    Kenya: Further spread of RVF

    The human death toll in the Rift Valley fever outbreak has reached 26, more counties have reported cases in livestock and six new areas are considered at high risk for spread of the virus. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an acute viral disease that typically infects domesticated herd animals. It is generally found in eastern and southern Africa where sheep and cattle are raised, as well as in West Africa, Madagascar, and more recently Saudi Arabia and Yemen. People are infected after exposure to blood, body fluids, or the tissue of RVF-infected animals, or from the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus presents a low risk to travellers, but is another reason to use personal insect repellent and take other steps to minimise insect bites in places where it occurs. Read more about RVF.

    Malaysia: Uptick in measles

    The health minister released the latest measles data this week – 724 cases countrywide this year, which constitutes a >20 percent rise over last year’s figures. He attributed the rise to lower than required immunisation rates. Read more

    Mexico: Mumps cases on the rise

    A number of states have recorded outbreaks of mumps this year, with the northern states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, and Quintana Roo on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula experiencing the largest increases most recently. Over half of all cases have been in the 20 to 44 years of age cohort. 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.

    Papua New Guinea: Polio makes unwelcome return

    After 22 years without a case of polio and eight years after it was declared polio-free the virus has been identified in three children of Lufa Mountain Settlement in the northern province of Morobe – only one child was symptomatic. The first case of vaccine-derived poliomyelitis was initially diagnosed in April and further testing in the community revealed the other two cases. All children under 15yo in the settlement have now been vaccinated as, according to the WHO press release, ‘only 61% of children [in Morobe province] having received the recommended 3 doses. Water, sanitation and hygiene are also challenges in the area.’ The media release also provides the following advice: ‘all travellers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. Residents (and visitors for more than 4 weeks) from infected areas should receive an additional dose of OPV or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel’. Read more on VPV in a WHO factsheet

    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. Vaccination is generally recommended for travel to affected regions and is a temporary requirement for travel to/from some countries. If at risk, adults should have a booster to the childhood series. More on polio

    Pakistan: Leishmaniasis sweeps through KP province

    Sand flies infected with the leishmania parasite have spread the infection (leishmaniasis) across wide areas of the NW province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this year, with nearly 1,500 cases reported. At least nine districts have reported cases, most are the cutaneous form of the infection. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. There are two main forms – cutaneous and visceral – both transmitted by bites from infected sand flies. There is no vaccine or preventative medication: avoiding infection relies on minimising sand fly bites. Read more on the disease and prevention.

    Philippines: Dengue cases, deaths mount

    Pangasinan, a province on the western coast of Luzon island, has experienced a leap in dengue fever cases this year, recording almost 1,400 cases and six associated deaths. Read more. And to the south, in the region of Bicol, dengue fever has sickened 973 people and caused the deaths of nine (in Camarines Sur, Catanduanes & Albay). Read more

    Reunion Island: Warm weather and dengue persist

    The cooler weather is yet to arrive, particularly in the south of the island, and so the dengue-transmitting Aedes mosquito prevails. The outbreak total has climbed to 5,393 cases since the start of the year. Read more

    South Africa: KwaZulu-Natal’s rabies toll rises; Flu activity rises

    Another human rabies death, the fifth this year, has been reported in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Authorities have issued a warning that rabies cases among animals have increased in three areas to the north of Durban (Phoenix, Newlands and Inanda), describing the area as a rabies ‘hotspot’. Read more
    THE FLU season has started and influenza activity is already reaching moderate levels. Other southern hemisphere countries with rising flu activity as mentioned in the latest WHO global flu update are: New Caledonia, (the Maldives), Brazil, Peru and temperate regions of Bolivia.

    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 the influenza vaccination, when available, for all travellers over 6 months of age.

    South Korea: Tick season arrives

    Warmer weather means people spend more time outdoors, but also an increased risk of exposure to ticks. A local news report has announced there have been 56 tick-borne severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) infections - in the SW province of North Jeolla, five of the seven people diagnosed with SFTS have succumbed to the illness. There is no preventive vaccine and treatment is symptomatic. Read more

    Advice for travellers: SFTS causes symptoms including high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, and multiple organ failure. The virus has a 6%–30% case-fatality rate. Read more about SFTS.

  • Bolivia: Flu surges in east

    Influenza infections have escalated in the lowlands department of Santa Cruz, leading the government to institute a vaccination campaign aimed at high risk individuals. An outbreak alert was issued in early May and, by the end of the month, there had been ‘5,334 suspected cases, 1,428 positive cases and 23 deaths’. Influenza viruses A(H1N1) and B have been detected most often. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: Seasonal flu is the most common vaccine-preventable travel-related illness: it’s likely to be found aboard aircraft, in crowded airport terminals, and at your destination. Vaccination is highly recommended and travellers should also avoid close contact with people showing flu-like symptoms, and thoroughly washing hands using soap and water after using the toilet and before eating. Alcohol wipes are a convenient alternative if soap and water is not available. Read more about influenza.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: EVD spread ‘largely contained’

    From the most recent health department update on the Ebola Virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Equateur province: ‘A total of 61 cases of haemorrhagic fever were reported in the region, including 38 confirmed, 14 probable and 9 suspected.’ There are three new suspected cases in Bikoro; a total of 28 deaths have been reported (14 of those were confirmed cases of EVD). An earlier World Health Organization (WHO) report notes ‘cautious optimism’ but continues, ‘attention is now focused on Iboko Health Zone, especially remote communities in Itipo health area, where the last confirmed case developed symptoms on 2 June 2018 and was confirmed on 6 June 2018.’

    Advice for travellers: Ebola 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.

    El Salvador: Typhoid strikes in centre, west

    A 'localised' outbreak of typhoid fever is underway in 26 towns and cities of the departments of Santa Ana, La Libertad and San Salvador, including the capital San Salvador. A senior public health official announced there had been 644 suspected cases of typhoid. Read more (translation required). And in Costa Rica, a rise in the incidence of malaria in the neighbouring countries of Nicaragua and Panama has led to the declaration of an alert which will allow for early detection of new cases. Over 20 nationals have returned to Costa Rica suffering from malaria, but the concern is greatest for the potential of spread to lowland areas harbouring the mosquito vector when infected individuals return home. Nicaragua has recently experienced a large outbreak of malaria, with more than 10,000 cases recorded. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Typhoid is endemic in many developing regions, although it generally presents a low risk for short-stay travellers staying in western-style accommodation. Vaccination is itinerary specific, but is generally recommended for those staying or travelling extensively in rural areas, as well as for adventurous eaters. All travellers visiting endemic areas should follow safe food and water guidelines, and adopt strict personal hygiene practices. Read more about typhoid fever.

    Fiji: Men. meningitis summary to June 4

    There are just over two weeks to run in the national meningococcal C vaccination campaign aimed at immunising all children and adolescents aged from one to 19 years. In a summary of the situation up to June 4th, the Dept. of Health and Medical Services announced there had been ‘an average of 3.38 suspected cases per week in the last 4 weeks’ and ‘a total of 71 cases from January 1st to June 4th, 2018. Of these, 27 are laboratory confirmed, 7 probable and 37 suspected cases (WHO case definitions)’. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Advice on the prevention of meningococcal infection, as stated on the Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services website, includes: Practicing good hygiene such as covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and washing hands; don’t share utensils, cups/glasses, drinks at social gatherings, cigarettes, or kava bowls. If planning travel to Fiji, discuss whether vaccination against meningococcal meningitis would be appropriate for your itinerary with your travel doctor. Read more about Men. meningitis.

    India: Disease uptick from monsoon rains

    The reports of mosquito-borne disease are ramping up. This week, dengue infections are rising in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Kasargod (Kerala) and Mumbai (Maharashtra), while Japanese encephalitis infections have been reported in Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) and in the state of Assam. Contaminated ice used at a private function for up to 2,000 people, has led to at least 84 cases of viral hepatitis in Kozhikode, Kerala. No indication of which faecal-orally transmitted virus, Hep A or E, was responsible for the contamination. The ice is sold by several factories and allegedly made with inadequate attention to hygienic techniques. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: A mosquito-borne virus, JE is usually found in many part of Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China, although cases also occur in Indonesia and PNG. It is mainly found in rural areas around rice paddies where pigs, wading birds and humans live closely together, however it does also occur in or near cities. The risk to short-stay travellers who confine their travel to urban centres and use appropriate mosquito bite avoidance measures is low. The recommendations for vaccination are itinerary-specific. Read more on JE

    Kenya: Regional RVF threat

    More than 230 suspected cases and at least 13 deaths have now been recorded in the outbreak of Rift Valley fever (RVF) which started in the NE, in Wajir County. Several other counties are on alert because, as noted in a WHO situation report, ‘the ‘high volume of movement of cattle and people in this area increases the risk of further spread of the outbreak both within Kenya, and to neighbouring countries’. Rwanda has already reported livestock deaths caused by RVF and Tanzania has issued an alert. Advice from the WHO includes being fully aware of RVF risk factors.

    Liberia: Measles rife in region

    Since the beginning of the year, more than 3,000 measles cases and 14 deaths have been recorded from 13 counties - almost two-thirds of all cases were children aged nine years or younger. Liberia is just one of 13 African countries with ongoing measles outbreaks that have so far caused 175 deaths from 26,000 cases. 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.

    Mozambique: Tackling malaria toll

    Health officials in the capital Maputo are introducing new measures to stem the number of malaria deaths which have risen even while overall cases have decreased (over last year’s figures). There were 25 recorded deaths from a total of 11,227 cases of malaria in the first three months of this year. Read more

    Advice for travellers: For many travellers, Africa presents a significant malaria risk. Travellers can discuss their itinerary and the need for anti-malaria medication with a trained travel health professional at their nearest Travelvax clinic. For details call 1300 360 164. Read more about malaria

    Nigeria: Cholera now in central state

    There has been a reduction in cholera rates in the NE state of Adamawa, however, according to a WHO regional report, ‘the upcoming rainy season increases the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera and hepatitis E, as well as an increase in vectors for malaria and other vector-borne diseases.’ The central state of Niger is now also reporting cholera cases, with eight districts affected. While no deaths have resulted, a local health worker stated that the ‘number of people with the symptoms is massive’. 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

    Philippines: Dengue in Luzon, Western Visayas

    Dengue fever case numbers have risen sharply over last year’s in the province of Cavite, situated on the south side of Manila Bay, Luzon. The three highest rating municipalities are Bacoor City, General Trias and Imus. Read more. In the region of Western Visayas, where the incidence of dengue infections has also risen, Cadiz City is one of five cities reporting dengue-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 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.

    Thailand: Rains to generate more dengue

    With the onset of the rainy season, a public health official has stated that the monthly dengue fever count across the country could reach 10,000. There have already been almost 20,000 cases this year and 21 people have lost their lives to the viral illness. Read more. Elsewhere in the SE Asian region, in Laos, two southern provinces (Attapeu and Champassak) have topped the dengue reporting rates, with 477 and 166 cases respectively, while Vientiane has recorded 102 cases this year. At a national level, there have been nearly 1,100 dengue infections and two deaths. Read more. In neighbouring Cambodia, dengue cases are on the rise with the onset of the rainy season. By the end of May, there had already been 960 suspected cases countrywide. Read more. The regions of Yangon, Tanintharyi, Ayeyarwaddy and Mon in Myanmar have logged the highest number of dengue fever infections in the first week of June, with more than 1,800; the national count was in excess of 2,690 cases. There were 18 recorded deaths in the same period. Read moreMacau has recorded the first locally-acquired case of dengue fever this year, a man from Areia Preta on the Macau peninsula. Read more

    Ukraine: Measles reports soar

    Over 1,400 new measles infections were recorded in the last week taking the year-to-date total to almost 22,000 with 11 deaths. A number of cities have each reported more than 1,500 cases this year: Lviv, Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Odesa and Kyiv. Read more

    United States of America: Local and regional food recalls

    A breakfast cereal and pre-packed trays of vegetables are behind multi-state (and in the case of the cereal, international) food recalls announced this past week. In Canada, some poultry products have been implicated in recent cases of salmonellosis in nine provinces and territories. Read more 

    Advice for travellers: Salmonella is bacteria typically found is food, such as poultry, that causes diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. Illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment, although diarrhoea may be so severe as to require hospital treatment. Young children and the elderly are at highest risk of severe illness. As there is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis, it is best to avoid raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat. Read more

    Vanuatu: Dengue, mumps update

    The dengue outbreak is over but the same cannot be said for mumps. A ReliefWeb summary of case numbers reveals there have been 619 cases since September last year, more than half in the central province of Shefa. The mumps virus is still circulating in Shefa, as well as Sanma, Malampa, and Tafea. Read more. Mumps reports updated for other Pacific destinations: Hawaii, USA and Auckland, New Zealand. 

    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.

    Vietnam: South’s dengue spike

    Sixty dengue fever hotspots, most of which are downtown, have been identified in the large city of Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. Of the 213 cases recorded this year, 200 are from this month alone, with children suffering most. On a national level, there have been over 22,000 dengue cases and four deaths this year. Read more

  • Brazil: Measles in NW

    Fourteen municipalities in the state of Amazonas and 11 in its northerly neighbour, Roraima, have reported measles outbreaks, with nearly 1,000 confirmed and suspected cases from across the NW region – a number of the cases in Roraima are among people from Venezuela, the site of a large ongoing outbreak. 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.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: EVD surveillance, vigilance continues

    The search for new Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases and their contacts has moved to the more remote areas of Iboko and Itipo in Equateur province. The latest World Health Organization (WHO) update advised that since May 17, ‘no new confirmed EVD cases have been reported in Bikoro and Wangata health zones, while the last confirmed case-patient in Iboko developed symptoms on 2 June 2018. From 1 April through 10 June 2018, a total of 55 EVD cases, including 28 deaths, have been reported from three health zones in Equateur Province.’ Read the WHO update here

    Advice for travellers: Ebola 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.

    Europe: Measles summary

    Up to June 10, Public Health in France registered 2,466 measles infections from 84 departments, however there has been a gradual decrease in new reports since early April. The department is also monitoring the outbreak in Mauritius amid concerns that infections could be imported by returning holidaymakers. Other EU countries  with continuing large outbreaks include Romania (for the duration of the outbreak, 13,563 confirmed cases, 55 deaths), Italy (median age 24 yo, over 85% of cases from Sicily, Lazio, Calabria, Campania & Lombardy) and Greece (over 2,000 cases and 2 deaths this year alone). Read more

    Fiji: Dengue count nears 3,500, outbreak ends

    The dengue outbreak is over - under 60 new infections reported every week now, compared to more than 230 at its peak. In summary, the Health Ministry announced there were four deaths among the 3,437 confirmed cases – highest numbers from the Western Division (1315 cases), followed by the Northern (1242). The ministry continues to advise mosquito bite avoidance measures and removal of the insects’ breeding sites. Read more. The Western Division, taking in the towns and environs of Lautoka and Nadi, is to take part in the Wolbachia mosquito control program. 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.

    India: Nipah virus update; Early monsoon effects

    No new cases of Nipah virus disease have surfaced in Kerala for almost two weeks, leading authorities to declare that the outbreak has been checked; health department data up to June 12 shows of the more than 300 samples tested, there were 18 confirmed cases and 16 deaths (three more cases and one death are considered ‘suspected’). Read more
    MONSOONAL rains have brought about the anticipated rise in mosquito-borne infections in the country’s south-west: Bengaluru and Kozhikode (Karnataka state) and Ernakulam (Kerala). State authorities in the state of Maharashtra have expressed consternation at the increased number of pre-monsoon dengue fever cases.

    Advice for travellers: Fruit bats (flying foxes) are the natural hosts of Nipah virus, and females shed the virus when pregnant or lactating. The fruit-eating bats perch on the jars used for collecting juice from palm or date trees, contaminating the juice with infected saliva and droppings. People are infected when they drink the raw juice, although it is also spread through person-to-person contact. 

    Jamaica: Dengue tally rises

    As many as 13 confirmed and 227 suspected dengue fever cases have been recorded this year. The mosquito-borne illness is endemic to Jamaica. Read more

    Kenya: Cholera count nears 5,000; RVF in north-east

    There have been nearly 5,000 cholera cases, including 75 deaths, from 19 counties this year and a number of them continue to report new infections - Garissa, Turkana, Tharaka-Nithi, West Pokot, Nairobi, Kiambu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Isiolo. Read more
    IN THE north-east county of Wajir, bordering Somalia, Rift Valley fever (RVF) is the confirmed cause of death for six people and the virus has sickened at least two more in this past week. As one of the modes of RVF transmission is through direct or indirect contact with contaminated meat/organs from infected animals (the other through mosquito bites), meat sales in the region have been halted. Most infections are fairly mild or asymptomatic. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an acute viral disease that typically infects domesticated herd animals. It is generally found in eastern and southern Africa where sheep and cattle are raised, as well as in West Africa, Madagascar, and more recently Saudi Arabia and Yemen. People are infected after exposure to blood, body fluids, or the tissue of RVF-infected animals, or from the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus presents a low risk to travellers, but is another reason to use personal insect repellent and take other steps to minimise insect bites in places where it occurs. Read more about RVF.

    Malawi: Resources to check rabies

    Rabies infections contracted through bites from rabid dogs have killed 22 people since last July in the SE district of Mulanje, bordering Mozambique. 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

    Namibia: More Hep E in north, capital

    There has been an increase in the number of suspected hepatitis E cases at the northern districts’ hospitals in Tsandi, Okahao, Outapi and Oshikuku. A local news report describes how a number of the confirmed cases had either travelled from the epicentre of the ongoing outbreak  in the informal township of Havana in Windhoek or had links to those people. Read more 
    IN THE far NE of the country, the regions of East and West Kavango are reporting a rise in the numbers of malaria infections. 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.

    Nigeria: Cholera lingers in NE

    More cholera infections (240 cases, two deaths) have been reported over a recent 7-day period in the Mubi districts of the NE state of Adamawa, while to the north, in Borno, ‘low-level cholera transmission’ continues. The upcoming wet season is quite likely to worsen the outbreaks. 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

    Paraguay: End to malaria

    The WHO confirmed this week that a 60-year programme to eliminate malaria in Paraguay has been successful and it was formally declared malaria-free - … ‘The first country in the Americas to be granted this status since Cuba in 1973’. It’s been seven years since a case of Plasmodium vivax malaria was reported and more than 20 years for P. falciparum. Other regional countries aspiring to achieve malaria-free status by 2020 include Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Suriname. Read more

    Reunion Island: West, south hit hard by dengue

    The dengue fever count now exceeds 4,600 for the year and each week between three and four hundred cases continue to be reported – the west (over half of all cases) and south remain those areas most affected. It is hoped that the arrival of winter next month, combined with mosquito control programmes will bring the outbreak to an end, preventing an even larger outbreak next summer. Read more (translation required). 

    Saudi Arabia: MERS cluster in SW

    Eight MERS Co-V infections have been diagnosed in one family group from the SW region of Narjan – only one person had had contact with camels or camel products, a known risk factor for transmission of the virus. These latest cases take the total since April 2012 to more than 2,200 with 790 deaths. Read more

    Sri Lanka: Hike in leptospirosis rates

    The incidence of leptospirosis has risen in some districts where it is not considered endemic, adding to the national disease count of nearly 1,600 suspected cases. Several districts have each recorded more than 100 cases, while Colombo and Kegalle reported over 90. The monsoons are likely to generate an increase in cases. Read more

    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.

    Taiwan: JE cases climb to 12

    Kaohsiung, Taichung, Changhua, Chiayi and Tainan are the locations of the seven most recent cases of Japanese encephalitis (taking the total to 12), according to the Centers for Disease Control. The agency advises ‘people who frequent mosquito-prone areas such as pig farms and rice paddy fields to take precautions against mosquito bites and ensure age-appropriate children receive Japanese encephalitis vaccination in a timely manner in order to ward off infection’. Read more

    Advice for travellers: On average, 24 cases are recorded each year in Taiwan, mainly in the south from May to October, but peaking in June and July. Cases typically occur in rural, rice-growing areas where people live near the host animals, pigs and wading birds. While it is a low risk for most travellers staying in urban areas, expats and travellers spending extended periods in agricultural areas of Asia should consult their travel doctor about recommendations for vaccination. Read more about JE.

    Vietnam: Dengue Day brings renewed focus

    In advance of ASEAN Dengue Day on June 15, local authorities have placed the focus firmly on prevention and control of the mosquito-borne viral infection. Over 22,000 cases have been recorded country-wide this year and there have been four deaths in southern regions. Last year’s peak produced more than 180,000 cases and 30 related deaths – most cases were in the largest cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Read more