Health Alerts
  • Brazil: Carnival warnings

    Visitors to the annual Carnival in Rio de Janeiro face a ‘nearly zero’ chance of contracting yellow fever (YF) if they stay in ‘touristic’ parts of the city and the beaches, according to the state’s Health Secretary, but they are strongly advised to keep away from areas where the risk of infection is higher – forests and waterfalls. Read more. An update from authorities in the state of Minas Gerais revealed a further 25 YF-related deaths from Jan 30 to Feb 6, with 3 from the capital Belo Horizonte and 15 from neighbouring districts. There have been 164 cases confirmed, but another 300 are under investigation. Read more.CIDRAP reports on the national YF statistics and the ongoing vaccination campaigns across 5 states. 

    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

    Cambodia: Dengue peak predicted

    This year is expected to bring a peak in the 5 to 6-year dengue fever cycles – the first 3 weeks have already produced a sharp rise in cases (316 and one death compared with last year, 138 cases and 0 deaths). Fears of an epidemic have increased as this escalation is happening well ahead of the rainy season, when dengue rates typically climb. A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said that all 4 strains of dengue virus had been detected during one recent survey of mosquito vectors (no Zika virus however). 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.

    Europe: Flu update

    The latest World Health Organization (WHO) global flu update of Feb 5 reveals high rates of influenza ‘in Northern and Southwestern Europe, and peaked in few countries but started to increase in Eastern Europe’ – the B virus strain predominating. While in North America, ‘overall influenza activity remained high, with detections of predominantly influenza A(H3N2) viruses’. Read the full update here. In Hong Kong, a meeting of public health officials and medical experts was held on Feb 7 to address an increase in flu cases and vaccine shortages. As a result, the Lunar Year school break (for kindergartens & primary and special needs schools) will start early, from Feb 8th. This year’s Lunar New Year celebrations take place from Feb 16-19. Read more from the Centre for Health Protection. 

    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 vaccination, if available, for all travellers over 6 months.

    India: Monkey fever in 2 western states

    Visitors to the southern Sindburgh distict of Maharashtra state have been warned of the dangers of tick bites after a resurgence in cases of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD). Over 200 cases have been confirmed in the past 2 years. The infection can be contracted through tick bites or contact with diseased animals such as monkeys. Read more . Across the state border in Goa, 12 KFD cases have been reported at Satari. Read more. More on KFD from the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

    Kazakhstan: Hep A in east

    Measures such as washing vegetables before eating them and observing good personal hygiene have been advised for residents of Karagandy (Qaraghandy), SW of the capital Astana, after more than 50 hepatitis A infections were reported in the city – over two-thirds of cases are children. A senior health official said that contaminated vegetables (beets and radishes) were suspected as being the source. Read more (translate from Russian).

    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.

    Malaysia: JE in Sarawak; Dengue tops 5,700

    In Sarawak, 2 cases of Japanese encephalitis have been identified since the beginning of the year. One, a man from a district some 30kms south of Kuching has succumbed to the infection – another JE case was notified from an area west of Kuching in December. Mosquito control measures have been put in place and vaccination campaigns are planned for the affected areas. Read more.

    OF THE 5,702 dengue fever cases reported Dec 31- Feb 6, over half were in the state of Selangor, followed by Johor (671) and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (408). 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 can occur in or near cities. The risk to short-stay travellers and those who confine their travel to urban centres is very low. The recommendations for vaccination are itinerary-specific. Read more on JE

    Nigeria: Fever outbreak draws WHO advice

    The WHO has called for cooperation between Nigeria and Benin as the neighbouring countries respond to Lassa fever outbreaks. A weekly bulletin issued on Feb 2 notes that for the first 4 weeks of the year Nigeria had ‘a total of 297 suspected cases and 22 deaths … from 13 active states’. A more recent French language news update puts the death rate at 31 from 15 states. Benin’s 21 confirmed and suspected cases (& 8 deaths) reported since the first case was identified on Jan 8 came from 4 departments (Alibori, Atacora, Borgou & Collines). Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa, notably in Nigeria, Guinea, and Liberia. As many as 300,000 cases and 5000 deaths occur each year. However, Lassa is a remote risk for travellers. Rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and it is spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person. Read more about Lassa fever.

    South Africa: Water crisis disease risk

    Disease outbreaks are just one of the contingencies that authorities are having to anticipate as the forecast May 11th Day Zero cut-off nears for the water supply to 75 percent of homes in Cape Town. It is hoped that measures currently being used and others in the planning will defer the shut-off until the end of June, after the start of the wet season. Read more.

    South Korea: Public health issues for Olympics

    In view of several large ongoing outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases across the globe, and the heightened risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections during large public gatherings, the WHO and South Korean health officials have jointly issued health recommendations for athletes, support teams and visitors to the XXIII Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The advice includes ensuring routine vaccines are current (such as measles, diphtheria, mumps & influenza), precautions relating to exposure to cold temperatures, sexually transmitted diseases and food and water-borne infections. This last warning is apt given the highly infectious norovirus outbreak affecting up to 86 workers at the Olympic village, forcing quarantine conditions on a further 1,200 people. Read more.

    Sri Lanka: Dengue cases set to rise

    The New Year’s dengue fever toll has already topped 6,200 cases (with 5 deaths) and it’s expected to climb following recent rains. Over 40 percent of cases have been in the Western province that includes the capital Colombo and 2 other large cities, Gampaha and Kalutara. One news report asserts that: ‘2018 has been identified as a dengue epidemic year.’ Read more.

    United Kingdom: Peak forecast for fever cases

    Scarlet fever rates have risen over 130 percent since September last year compared to same period in 2016. The annual cycle of infections caused by the Group A Streptococcus started earlier this year and, to date, the season is at a 4-year peak. Public Health England has alerted parents to the tell-tale symptoms: ‘sore throat, headache and fever with a characteristic fine, pinkish or red rash with a sandpapery feel.’ Read more.

    Zambia: Slow improvement in capital’s cholera

    Good news for residents of the capital Lusaka, with new cholera cases slowing, down to 12 in a recent 24-hour period. Nearly 4,000 cases and 83 deaths have been reported since October. Read more. And in neighbouring Zimbabwe, the case count from the cholera outbreak that originated in Chegutu have reached 94, one reported recently from a town only 40kms from the capital, Harare. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Cholera is usually spread in contaminated water. For most short-stay travellers, the risk of infection is low. Australians travelling to regions where a cholera outbreak is occurring should adhere to strict personal hygiene guidelines and choose food and beverages with care. Read more about cholera.

  • Australia: Diphtheria in FNQ; Rains hike infection risk

    A man from northern Qld, with no recent history of overseas travel, is under treatment at a hospital in Brisbane after being diagnosed with diphtheria. News reports state that he had not been vaccinated against the infectious bacterial illness, one that is routinely covered in the standard childhood immunisation schedule. Currently there are large outbreaks of diphtheria in Indonesia and among the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, however infections are a rare occurrence in Australia. Read more

    A RECENT increase in the number of melioidosis infections recorded in the Northern Territory serves to reinforce the seasonal messages issued by the health department. Heavy rains at this time of year move the bacteria from deep underground to the muddy surface where they infect people through open wounds, or even by breathing them in. With fatality rates of 10 to 15 percent, symptoms to watch out for include fever, cough, difficulty in breathing and skin ulcers. People with lowered immune defences are more at risk of infection. Read more. More on melioidosis

    Brazil: Malaria in NE

    The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued a level 2 alert - Practice Enhanced Precautions – for the town of Wenceslau Guimarães in Bahia state following the confirmation of 7 malaria cases and one death. Health authorities are deeming it a localised outbreak which was possibly started with a traveller arriving from the state of Pará, a malaria endemic location. Read more (translate from Portuguese). 

    Advice for travellers: 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

    Fiji: Second dengue focus

    There have been 11 confirmed dengue fever cases and more are suspected in a second province - Cakaudrove - on the island of Vanua Levu. Cakaudrove neighbours Macuata, where a recent outbreak was recorded. Read more. While some 800kms to the SW of Fiji, on Tonga’s main island of Tonga'tapu, 19 dengue cases have been confirmed and a girl who was visiting the kingdom from New Zealand succumbed to the infection last week. Read more. The NZ Minister for Pacific Peoples is calling for signage and information to be displayed at regional airports to advise arriving passengers of the potential for mosquito-borne infections such as dengue fever and Zika. 

    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.

    Greece: Measles top 1,260

    As expected, there has been further spread of the measles outbreak, with many of the new cases reported in the south. A Department of Epidemiological Surveillance and Intervention update on January 25th notes that more cases are likely to be confirmed, adding to the 1,262 notified since the outbreak began. According to the report, ‘It concerns people of Greek nationality (mainly young Roma children, as well as Greek adults mainly aged 25-44 years old) susceptible to measles’. There have been 2 associated deaths.  

    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.

    Madagascar: Typhoid fears in capital

    Doctors in the capital Antananarivo have alerted the local population to several suspected cases of typhoid fever and have recommended stronger food-related hygiene measures. Read more (translate from French).

    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 against typhoid fever 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.

    Mozambique: Cholera in NE

    Cholera has struck the NE city of Pemba in the province of Cabo Delgado. Authorities are tackling the lack of adequate sanitation in areas such as the colourful fishing village of Paquitequete in an attempt to bring the outbreak to an end. At least 75 cholera cases have been recorded in Pemba to date. Read more (translate from Portuguese).

    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.

    Nigeria: January’s fever cases near 300

    The NCDC situation report on the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak provides the latest data: 15 new confirmed infections and 2 deaths from Jan 22 to 28, and nearly 300 suspected cases and 22 deaths since the beginning of the month. The new cases were recorded across 5 states: Edo (6), Ondo (4), Taraba (3) and one each from Delta & Imo. Read more from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (week 4). 

    Advice for travellers: Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa, notably in Nigeria, Guinea, and Liberia. As many as 300,000 cases and 5000 deaths occur each year. However, Lassa is a remote risk for travellers. Rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and it is spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person. Read more about Lassa fever.

    Pakistan: Hyderabad tackling resistant typhoid

    In the 12 months to November/December last year, more than 100 children died from typhoid infections that were due to antibiotic resistant strains of the bacterium. Children between 2 and 10 years of age in two areas of Hyderabad (Latifabad & Qasimabad) have been hardest hit and deaths continue to occur daily. Around one quarter of a million children will be vaccinated using a new conjugate typhoid vaccine – Typbar – that was recently pre-qualified by the WHO. Read more.

    Papua New Guinea: Dengue flares after rains

    At least 7 suspected and confirmed dengue fever infections have been recorded in Port Moresby with a local doctor warning of the increased risk of the mosquito-borne infection following heavy rains. Read more.

    South Africa: Listeria cases mount

    From the most recent NICD update (Jan 25th) on the listeriosis outbreak: the source of the bacterial contamination remains unknown and up to Jan 23rd (from 1/1/17), there have been 820 laboratory-confirmed cases and 82 deaths with highest numbers recorded in the provinces of Gauteng (486), Western Cape (105) and KwaZuluNatal (59). While the search for the source of this outbreak continues, advice is to follow the WHO’s Five Keys to Safer Foods

    Spain: Hep A in Balearic Is.

    Over 30 people who had eaten at a restaurant in the city of Palma, Mallorca, in mid-December have been diagnosed with hepatitis A. Health officials traced the infection to one of the workers at the establishment. While it is hoped that there won’t be any further cases, the extended incubation period of the viral illness (up to 50 days) means that it's still a possibility. 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 99%-plus effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    United States of America: Measures to halt Michigan’s Hep A

    The hepatitis A outbreak in Michigan is now into its 7th month with 715 cases reported to Jan 24. While most cases have been in the Detroit urban area, as many as 12 new cases have been identified in other counties. Food handlers in Detroit are now being encouraged to take up the offer of Hep A vaccinations. Read more.

    Vanuatu: Mumps cases persist

    The Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network disease alert map reveals increasing numbers of mumps cases in Vanuatu. The outbreak was first announced in late September last year, when a number of schoolchildren in Port Vila were diagnosed with mumps. At the time, news reports suggested the initial case was a traveller arriving from New Zealand. 

    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.

    Zimbabwe: Outbreaks slowing

    From the peak of the typhoid outbreak in November, there has been further reduction in the number of cases in the most affected areas of the capital Harare - Kuwadzana in the west and Mbare in the south. According to a WHO regional report, the attack rate has dropped from 15:100,000 to 5:100,000. Addressing sanitation issues is paramount – ‘The key drivers of this outbreak are the lack of safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and unhygienic conditions in the affected areas…’. Meanwhile, up to Jan 26th the cholera outbreak has led to ‘a total of 81 cases (4 confirmed, 3 probable, 74 suspected) and four deaths.’ The improvement has been slower in Zambia and cases continue to be reported, bringing the total case count as of Jan 23rd to 3,635 with 78 deaths – 94 percent of cases are from the capital, Lusaka.

  • Brazil: WHO broadens YF vax recommendation

    The states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have announced a rise in yellow fever (YF) cases and deaths. Highest case numbers were in São Paulo where the capital city's zoo and botanical gardens have been closed as a precaution after a monkey that had died of YF was found in the immediate area. Over 21 million residents of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia states will receive YF fever vaccinations over the next 2 months – the population largely lives ‘in areas with ecosystems favorable for transmission of the yellow fever virus’. For tourists travelling to Brazil for the annual Carnival which gets under way on Feb 9th, the recommendation for YF vaccination has been extended from previously identified at-risk areas to include the City as well as the state of São Paulo. 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

    France: Flu season update

    Influenza strains, B and A(H1N1) are the predominant infecting viruses in France’s current season, said to be the worst in 5 years. The WHO global update notes that flu activity is high also in Ireland, Italy and the UK (mainly A(H3N2) & B), while in ‘both Northern and Southern China, ILI (influenza-like illness) and influenza activity continued to increase at levels higher than the previous three influenza seasons’ (B, then A(H3N2)). ILI levels were also rising in North America, with people aged 65+ years making up most of the flu cases and hospitalisations (mostly A(H3N2)). Read the WHO update here

    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 against influenza 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.

    Guatemala: Measles import ex Germany

    Local measles cases haven’t been seen in 20 years and the vaccination rate against the highly infectious viral illness has been dropping over the last few years, so the confirmed diagnosis of measles in a student who had visited Germany earlier this month has produced calls for a strengthening of ‘public health surveillance protocol’. Germany is just one of the European countries reporting a spike in cases – 937 for the 12 months up to Nov ’17. 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.

    New Zealand: Mumps cases top 1,100

    The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) website reveals that around 80 percent of the 10 to 29 year old residents who make up the most cases in the mumps outbreak are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated. The case count has now topped 1,121 with health officials urging parents to ensure their children are current with the vaccination schedule. Read more. The January 18 state health department update on the mumps outbreak (809 cases) in Hawaii can be found here.

    Advice for travellers: These lingering 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.

    Nigeria: Measures to tackle Lassa fever

    Rapid Response Teams have been dispatched to the states of Ebonyi, Ondo and Edo to manage Lassa fever outbreaks. The 3 states have been hardest hit, but a further 7 states have also recorded cases – a total of 107 suspected infections since Jan 1st. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Lassa fever is an acute viral illness that occurs in West Africa, notably in Nigeria, Guinea, and Liberia. As many as 300,000 cases and 5,000 deaths occur each year. However, Lassa is a remote risk for travellers. Rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and it is spread between humans through direct contact with the blood, urine, faeces, or other bodily secretions of an infected person. Read more about Lassa fever.

    Samoa: Dengue numbers finally declining

    Health officials believe the dengue outbreak is slowing despite a further 110 cases being recorded during the Christmas period. Read more. Ituau, Mauputasi and Sua in American Samoa have been identified as having suspected dengue fever cases. Read more. Over 1,200kms to the north, Kiribati has reported a rising number of suspected dengue fever illnesses and also 338 cases of rotavirus, which has badly affected the under-4 year’s age group. 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.

    Singapore: Dengue cluster in NE

    The National Environment Agency’s Dengue page identifies a high risk cluster which has so far produced 100 of the 223 cases the island-state has recorded this year. The cluster is in a residential area in the NE - Hougang/Serangoon district. Read more.

    Tanzania: Cholera risk ‘high’

    A WHO assessment on the risk of cholera in the country notes that ‘active cholera transmission has persisted in Tanzania Mainland, with Mbeya and Songwe Regions being the most active’ but public health measures need reinforcing, so the ‘risk at national level is therefore high.’ Furthermore, ‘Malawi recently reported a cholera outbreak in Karonga. Cross-border population movement between the two countries might further increase the risk of transmission in Malawi. Other neighbouring countries such as DRC, Burundi, Zambia and Kenya are already experiencing large cholera outbreaks. The risk at regional level is high.’ 

    Advice for travellers: Cholera is usually spread in contaminated water. For most short-stay travellers, the risk of infection is low. Australians travelling to regions where a cholera outbreak is occurring should adhere to strict personal hygiene guidelines and choose food and beverages with care. For further advice on whether you should consider vaccination for your trip, call Travelvax Australia’s travel health advisory service (1300 360 164).

    Thailand: Seasonal warning

    During the current scrub typhus peak season, people who have visited forested areas have been asked to monitor their health for symptoms of the infection which is spread through the bites of chiggers or larval mites. Prompt medical follow up is recommended in the presence of fever, headache and dry cough, particularly if there is also a dark scab or eschar at the site of the bite. Malaria should also be excluded. 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.

    Uganda: Viral fevers in Central Region

    Two viral fevers that can be transmitted by insects or through contact with infected blood or tissues from animals have caused the deaths of 4 people from the Central Region. At least 5 cases (3 deaths) of Rift Valley fever (RVF) have been recorded in the districts of Kiboga, Buikwe and Mityana, while a 9-year-old child died of Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic fever in Nakaseke district. Today the Minister of Health released a statement outlining the government’s response. In South Sudan, testing is underway on 13 people from Eastern Lakes State suspected of having RVF. There have been 3 associated deaths. 

    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.

    Zimbabwe: Typhoid, now cholera

    Following last week’s report on a typhoid outbreak in the capital, another diarrhoeal disease has struck. This time it’s cholera that has sickened 32 people and caused the deaths of 4 in the town of Chegutu, 100kms to the west of Harare. International aid agencies are on the scene providing assistance. 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 on typhoid.