Health Alerts
  • Argentina: Capital’s confirmed dengue

    In just under four months there have been 47 dengue fever cases in the capital, Buenos Aires – none of those infected had travelled outside the country so the dengue was locally acquired. Read more (translate from Spanish). In neighbouring Paraguay, information available up to late March revealed a total of 2,184 confirmed dengue cases (& 10 deaths), but there were a further 12,347  infections that were considered ‘probable’. While some municipalities in Asunción had a drop in cases, numbers rose in Zeballos Cué, Botánico and Roberto L Petit. Read more (translate from Spanish).

    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.

    Botswana: Late malaria for 2 regions

    The end of the annual peak malaria transmission season is approaching but cases have climbed recently owing to late rains in southern and central areas. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) bulletin, there have been 339 confirmed cases and two deaths for the year to mid-April. 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. More on malaria.

    China: Onset of HFMD season

    Health authorities in Beijing expect a rise in the incidence of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) this year as the city heads into the peak season for the infection; and the situation is likely to be mirrored on a national level. Children under five years of age make up more than three-quarters of all cases. Read more (translation required).

    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.

    Europe: Study: Measles outcomes severe in babies

    Results from a study on the ongoing measles outbreak were outlined at a recent conference and included: ‘37,365 measles cases reported to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) from 1 January 2013 through 31 December 2017. The researchers found 81% of all reported cases were patients who were not vaccinated.’ And ‘children younger than two years old were at a higher risk of dying from measles than older patients’.

    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.

    India: Dengue alert sounded

    It has been revealed that over 40 percent of children living in Kerala’s capital district have tested positive for previous dengue fever infections so their risk of severe complications from a subsequent infection is raised. Authorities are concerned the upcoming monsoon (and peak dengue) season could bring higher death rates even if actual dengue numbers drop. Read more 

    Japan: Golden measles risk

    The increase in holiday travel over Golden Week (starting at week’s end) could well bring a surge in measles cases after local authorities in Okinawa said their numbers have increased from ~40 on April 13 to 70. Also six more healthcare-related cases have occurred in Aichi prefecture after an infected teenager who had travelled to Okinawa sought medical care on return to Nagoya. Read more. Taiwan’s Center for Disease Control measles statistics reveal they have had a total of 23 cases since the end of March, 15 of those in April. One news source stated that over 5,000 people may have been exposed to the virus through contact with infected individuals.

    Nigeria: Lassa season assessment

    A WHO assessment of the Lassa fever outbreak offers some caution with the news that case numbers are finally on the decline: ‘This declining trend needs to be interpreted with caution as historical data shows that the high transmission period has not passed. … This is the largest outbreak of Lassa fever ever reported in Nigeria.’ Edo, the only state to report a new case this past week, has been the source of over 40 percent of all cases this year. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Lassa fever is a low risk for most travellers. Rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and it’s then passed on to humans through direct contact, touching objects or eating food contaminated with these materials, or through cuts or sores. While Lassa fever is mild or has no observable symptoms in about 80% of people infected with the virus, the remaining 20% have a severe multisystem disease. Read more on Lassa fever.

    Philippines: Safe from measles program underway

    Authorities in the City of Parañaque, a southern municipality within Metro Manila, have instituted a campaign – Ligtas Tigdas – aimed at tacking the rising incidence of measles infections in children and pregnant women. Nationally, there have been 950 confirmed measles cases but the number of suspected cases is many times higher at 5,450. Fifteen deaths have resulted from the outbreak; the majority of those were unvaccinated. Read more

    Reunion Island: Dengue count tops 1,800

    No let-up in the dengue epidemic with 428 more cases reported in the week to Apr 22, taking the yearly total to 1,816. The west and south of the island continue to be hardest hit. Read more (translate from French).

    South Africa: Post-holiday malaria warning: Listeria update

    On April 19 the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) issued an alert as holiday travel has brought about a rise in the incidence of malaria. The organisation was responding to an increase in malaria cases in returning travellers from both within and outside the country, with particular mention of the provinces of NE Limpopo, eastern Mpumalanga, and northern KwaZulu-Natal. EVEN though the source of the listeria outbreak has been identified, the NICD’s Apr 22 report lists several reasons why cases could still emerge: ‘The incubation period of listeriosis can be up to 70 days; The implicated products have a long shelf life and it is possibly that despite the recall some products have not been removed from retail or consumer’s homes and; Cross-contamination at retail and in the home can occur.’ Read more on listeriosis.

    Sri Lanka: Western districts’ dengue highs

    With over 16,000 dengue cases recorded across the country, it’s Colombo that has recorded the highest figures this year (2,470), followed by Gampaha, Batticaloa and Jaffna. Read more

    Switzerland: Tick-borne infection spreads

    In 2017 there was a four-fold increase in human tularemia infections (rabbit fever), with 130 cases reported. The bacterial illness, which is found in animals such as rabbits and rodents, is most commonly transmitted to humans through the tick bites; however it can also occur through skin contact or ingestion of infected animals or contaminated water. More on tularemia. Read more

    Thailand: Dengue spike in south

    The 220 dengue fever cases recorded in Phuket this year puts the tourist hotspot at the top of the mosquito-borne infection register, on a per capita basis. Also reporting high numbers: Samutsakorn (Bangkok Metropolitan Region), Ranong and Pangnga. The rainy season is set to start next month with more dengue fever certain to follow. Read more

    United Kingdom: Measles alerts climb

    News sources from around the country are reporting on local measles cases, many of which are associated with travel to Europe: London, Sussex & Surrey, South West and in Gloucestershire (also experiencing a rise scarlet fever cases).

    United States of America: Hep A gains ground

    Homeless people and illicit drug users have borne the brunt of the hepatitis A outbreak that is increasing its reach. This week’s reports have come from the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Utah and West Virginia

    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.

    Vietnam: Malaria toll highest in 4 provinces

    Information provided by the Health Ministry on malaria (April 25th was World Malaria Day): Binh Phuoc and three provinces in the Central Highlands (Gia Lai, Dak Lak and Dak Nong) reported the majority of the 1,700+ malaria cases to date this year. While the country as a whole experienced a drop in the incidence of malaria in 2017, the four provinces reported growing numbers. Read more

    Zimbabwe: Cholera emerges in more areas

    Updated cholera case numbers provided in a WHO regional weekly bulletin: 28 probable cases and one death, taking the total to 36 cases (confirmed and suspected) and three deaths. Although there has been a decline in cases, more parts of the city and peri-urban areas have been affected (Chitungwiza city, Belvedere, Mount Hampden, Southlands and Eastview. Read more. In the same bulletin, testing of a cholera strain behind one of two outbreaks in Congo has identified multi-drug resistance. Two departments have reported cholera, Likouala and Plateau, but it’s the outbreak in Mpouya District in Likouala that is of more concern due to the presence of resistant bacteria. In the Eastern and Southern Africa region, the incidence of cholera has climbed in Zambia, Somalia and Tanzania, however active transmission is occurring in eight of the 21 countries. Read the WHO regional report.

    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: Vax rates in 3 states below 50%

    The populations of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia states are under notice from the Ministry of Health (MOH) - find their nearest health clinic and get a yellow fever vaccination promptly. The three states are well short of the 95 percent vaccination coverage needed to protect the population adequately – their rates are between 41 and 55 percent at this stage. From a MOH update: ‘From July 1, 2017 until April 10, the Ministry of Health registered 1,127 confirmed cases of yellow fever. In total, 5,052 cases were reported, of which 2,806 were already discarded and 1,119 were still under investigation…the yellow fever virus today circulates in metropolitan regions of the country with the largest population, reaching 35.6 million people living in areas that have never had a recommendation of vaccine.

    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

    Canada: Hep A risk from strawberries; BC norovirus spreads

    Products that contain frozen strawberries imported from Egypt have been withdrawn from sale amid concerns they might be contaminated with hepatitis A virus. Packs of the frozen fruit had already been recalled and more recently mixed juices/smoothies that included the suspect fruit have been added to the recall list. Read more. Across the border in the USA, over two million eggs have been recalled from sale after an outbreak of salmonella was linked to a producer that supplied eggs to retailers and restaurants in nine states. There have been 23 confirmed salmonella infections attributed to the eggs thus far. Read more. PUBLIC health authorities have acknowledged that British Columbia oysters contaminated with norovirus are still in the marketplace after the number of infections increased from 40 to 126 and two further provinces reported cases – Alberta and Ontario. While the source of the outbreak has been confirmed, the source of the contamination has not. More advice can be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

    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.

    Czech Republic: Local and regional measles

    There has been a spike in measles infections affecting mainly the capital Prague and, to a lesser extent, the Central region; however another six regions are also reporting cases. Read more (translation required). Also read an update on the outbreaks in France (new data), Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Romania as provided by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) which notes ‘of particular concern is the situation in France and Italy, with cases almost tripling in France since the previous update in March, and more than doubling in Italy.’ Read more . There is also a separate report from Valencia, Spain

    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.

    Fiji: Outbreak news updated

    The Minister for Health and Medical Services announced updated figures in the meningococcal C outbreak: for the year to April 12, a total of 46 cases and four related deaths. Twenty-seven cases were from the Central Division, followed by 16 in the Western Division and one each in Eastern and Northern Divisions. The Ministry had noted a rise in meningococcal cases in the latter months of 2017. 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 close living quarters. More about meningococcal meningitis.

    India: Western state’s measles spate

    Actual numbers of measles infections are many times higher than official figures in the coastal towns of Kutch district in Gujarat state, according to some reports, after six outbreaks occurred in the first three months of the year. A large mobile workforce and low vaccination rates among the local population have attributed to an increase in the incidence of the highly infectious viral illness. Read more

    Kenya: Measles cases top 112

    More than 110 measles cases and one associated death have been reported in the north-eastern counties of Wajir and Mandera, bordering Somalia and Ethiopia. The region’s low vaccination rates have caused health authorities to reinforce the message on the importance of routine immunisations for children. Read more

    Niger: Meningitis belt update

    The number of meningococcal meningitis cases hasn’t been disclosed for three health districts in the regions of Maradi and Tahoua, but the epidemic threshold has been exceeded; a further four districts in Maradi, Tahoua and Est have reached epidemic levels. Read more (translate from French).  Across the meningitis belt region of Africa this season, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Burkina Faso have recorded the highest rates of meningococcal meningitis. 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 - toll-free for landlines) for further advice. Read more about Men. meningitis.

    Nigeria: Lassa numbers fall; Cholera in NE spikes again

    News on a positive note regarding the Lassa fever outbreak, with the latest NCDC Sitrep stating last week’s five new confirmed cases were ‘the lowest weekly case count since the first week of January 2018.’ The outbreak, which has struck 21 states, has killed one-quarter of those infected. The annual ‘season’ for Lassa fever extends until June. In Liberia, Lassa fever cases have been confirmed in four central counties (Nimba, Montserrado, Bong and Grand Bassa). Read more. THREE deaths have been recorded from over 700 cholera cases in the NE state of Borno, near Lake Chad. International aid agencies are in the region providing immunisations and other disease prevention initiatives. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Lassa fever is a low risk for most travellers. Rodents shed the virus in urine and droppings and it’s then passed on to humans through direct contact, touching objects or eating food contaminated with these materials, or through cuts or sores. While Lassa fever is mild or has no observable symptoms in about 80% of people infected with the virus, the remaining 20% have a severe multisystem disease. Read more on Lassa fever.

    Philippines: Measles prompts CDC travel advisory

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel advisory for the Philippines in view of its large ongoing measles outbreak. The advice includes ensuring MMR vaccinations are up to date. In other regional measles news: A visiting Taiwanese national infected with measles has sparked at least 40 more cases in Okinawa, Japan, before travelling by bullet train to Nagoya, increasing the likelihood of a further outbreak. Read more

    Reunion Island: Dengue epidemic continues, leptospirosis cases climb

    With a further 396 locally-acquired dengue fever cases in the last week, the total for the year now sits at 1,388 - the majority of cases are from the western and southern areas of the island. The regional health agency expects current mosquito densities and weather conditions to intensify and prolong the outbreak. Read more (translate from French). There has also been a hike in the incidence of leptospirosis this year, with 65 cases compared with approx. 15 throughout all 2017. Most cases were admitted to hospital and one-third required high dependency care. 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.

    Russia: Flu season lingering

    While most countries in the current influenza transmission zones have declining flu numbers, Eastern Europe (in particular Russia & Latvia), Egypt and Kazakhstan continue to report infections. Read the latest World Health Organization (WHO) global influenza update.

    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.

    Saudi Arabia: MERS advice for pilgrims

    The ECDC has issued recommendations for pilgrims travelling to Mecca for the Umrah, including advice relating to the MERS Co-V outbreak: ‘avoid close contact with animals, particularly camels, when visiting farms, markets, or barn areas. Most commonly, coronaviruses are transmitted by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes… Pilgrims may be at increased risk of infection in crowded baths, packed transportation and confined accommodation.’ From the most recent update from EMRO (March), Saudi Arabia had reported 1814 MERS cases, including 708 related deaths.

    Zimbabwe: Cholera SE of Harare

    Cholera has broken out in the settlement town of Stoneridge, about 15km SE of the centre of Harare. The Health and Child Care Secretary announced eight cases and two deaths over the past fortnight and added that numbers may be under-reported. Clean water supply and sanitation infrastructure are poor in the affected area and there is a marked risk of more water-borne diseases. A previous cholera outbreak in Chegutu, Mashonland West, was resolved in late March. 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

  • Afghanistan: Campaigns to target polio

    Earlier this week, Afghanistan and Pakistan initiated polio vaccination campaigns aimed at interrupting wild poliovirus transmission. This year, there have been eight cases from the two countries – only one of those in Pakistan (Balochistan province). Read more

    Advice for travellers: Polio is a potentially serious viral illness that is spread through contact with infected faeces or saliva. The risk to travellers is generally low. Vaccination is recommended for travel to affected regions and is a requirement for travel to/from some countries. If at risk, adults should have a booster to the childhood series. More on poliomyelitis

    Angola: Malaria’s tragic toll

    The four provinces of Luanda, Benguela, Uige and Bié have recorded over 400,000 of the nation’s year-to-date 720,000 malaria cases. Measures are being employed tackle the huge burden of the disease, which is responsible for the most deaths, hospitalisations and absenteeism in the country. Read more (translate from Portuguese).

    Advice for travellers: For most 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.

    Brazil: YF arrives on coast; Measles for Amazon, northern state

    News from São Paulo this week that two monkeys died of yellow fever (YF) infection in areas of the state’s north coast: One in Ubatuba (300kms to the west of the city of Rio de Janeiro) where a human death is also being investigated for possible YF causes. As under half of Ubatuba’s population has been immunised against YF, a reactive vaccination campaign is under way. Read more. MANY of the growing number of suspected measles cases reported in the states of Amazonas and Roraima (bordering Venezuela) have links to the ongoing outbreak in Venezuela (also producing cases in Colombia and Ecuador). 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

    Canada: Tainted oysters in BC

    Two oyster farms on the east coast of Vancouver Island are closed while investigations continue into an outbreak of norovirus that has sickened at least 40 people. It is believed that human waste contaminated the waters near the farms. Read more

    Advice for travellers: While it is extremely contagious, norovirus infection is generally short-lived, causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, which may lead to more serious complications among young children, the elderly, and the sick. To minimise the risk, wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating, and practice good hygiene. Read more on norovirus.

    China: HFMD cases surging

    Public health officials have warned of rising rates of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD). In excess of 28,000 cases were recorded in March which was double the previous month’s total, signalling the start of the infection’s peak season that generally runs from April to July. Each year China reports over two million cases of HFMD. 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 in Australia, but good hand hygiene will greatly reduce the risk of infection.

    Fiji: Men. meningitis response

    In a media release, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services advised that adverse weather conditions had delayed the administration of meningococcal vaccinations planned for students at a Tailevu high school until April 5th. As six (of the country’s 38 cases) were at the school, regular medical checks of the students were also carried out and antibiotics administered as a preventive measure. All 38 cases were under 19 years of age. 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. More about meningococcal meningitis

    France: Local & regional measles persists

    Another 192 measles cases were recorded in the week from Mar 28 to April 3 taking the total since early November to 1,605, with Nouvelle-Aquitaine still in epidemic mode. According to a French Public Health bulletin, infants under 12 months of age are most affected and more than 20 percent of all cases have required hospitalisation. Read more. While in England there have been almost 700 measles cases this year - currently there are alerts in Birmingham, Kent & Medway; in Ireland the outbreak is now in its fourth month, with many of those infected aged between 15 and 50 years.

    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.

    India: Tick-borne disease in 2 states; Ice tests reveal bacterial load

    The districts of Sattari in the NE of Goa state and Sindhudurg in Maharashtra are the focus of two outbreaks of Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD). Approx. 50 cases have been identified this year in Sattari, and this is the third consecutive year of cases in Sindhuburg, with 60 reported. As many as 500 cases of KFD occur each year nationally, with a case fatality rate of 3%-5%. Mainly seen in the dry season, the tick-borne viral disease occurs in humans and monkeys. YOU may have heard it before, but the advice is to avoid ice in drinks unless you know it is made from purified water. From a local news source: recent testing of ice sold at various food outlets in Mumbai found 98 percent of the 410 samples were contaminated with E Coli, a common cause of gastrointestinal illness. Health authorities have tried to crack down on the sale of the impure ice, but the numbers of facilities producing ice in the hotter months surges.

    Iran: Hep A in SW

    Drought conditions have led to an increase in the number of hepatitis A cases and heightened the risk of cholera in the SW province of Khuzestan, including its capital Ahvaz. 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.

    Liberia: Regional alert for south

    Four cases of Monkeypox have been confirmed in the south-central county of Rivercess and an additional two are under investigation. As a precaution, the Chief Medical Officer has issued an alert for the region. Read more

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

    Mexico: Peninsula reports rise in chickenpox

    The Yucatan Peninsula has recorded a rise in the number of cases of chickenpox, with nearly 1,500 to March 25 - 46 percent more compared with the same period last year. 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.

    New Caledonia: Two dengue virus types circulating

    The case count in the current dengue fever epidemic (to Apr 6) is now 589. Dengue serotype 2, which is also behind other outbreaks in the region (Vanuatu, Fiji, American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga) is dominant, however DENV 1 is also circulating. Yaté, Nouméa and Dumbéa have the highest infection rates. Read more (translate from French).

    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.

    New Zealand: South Island measles scare

    Contact with a person infected with measles at Queenstown airport has generated five more cases in Queenstown, Christchurch, Wanaka and Nelson – at least four of whom were unvaccinated. Some of those infected had gone on to visit other areas of the South Island and taken domestic flights, sparking fears of a widening outbreak. Read more

    Nigeria: Lassa fever update; Cholera surges in 9 states

    Since mid-February there has been a gradual decline in the numbers of new Lassa fever cases – a further eight were recorded last week from the states of Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Plateau and Abia (42 percent of the 1,706 suspected cases were from Edo). According to a Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Sitrep, ‘From 1st January to 8 th April 2018, a total of 1781 suspected cases have been reported from 20 states.’ And ‘Since the onset … there have been 101 deaths in confirmed cases, 9 in probable cases.‘ The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern that ‘the peak transmission period is not yet over’ and issues including ‘poor sanitation conditions in high burden communities and multiple outbreak activities in some States are limiting commitment to the Lassa fever outbreak response.’ Read more. A RISE in cholera cases this year also has the NCDC concerned: Nine states have reported a total of 2,000 cholera cases and 37 related deaths. Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Kano, Yobe and Zamfara are most affected. 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 most 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.

    Papua New Guinea: Fears for post-quake disease risk

    International aid agencies consider the risk of water- and vaccine-preventable diseases will be high in those areas of the highlands affected in the recent earthquake. Immunisation rates are very low and the condition of the children and their surroundings is poor. Read more

    Peru: Dengue climbs in Piura

    The year’s dengue burden is considerably lower than last year’s in the NE district of Piura. Six municipalities, including the district capital Piura, have recorded highest rates to date. Read more

    Philippines: Luzon dengue rates grow

    While dengue fever cases have risen by over 180 percent this year in the province of Pangasinan in western Luzon, highest infection rates have been in Calabarzon, followed by Metro Manila. Read more

    Reunion Island: Dengue advice for tourists

    Advice given to arriving travellers on the current dengue fever epidemic includes the need to avoid mosquito bites and to monitor themselves for symptoms of dengue during the stay on the island and for one week after leaving. To April 10, the bulk of the 955 confirmed cases have been in western and southern districts; however isolated infections have also been found in the north. Read more (translate from French).

    Saudi Arabia: Scabies hit schoolkids

    Over 2,760 infections have so far resulted from a scabies outbreak that began in late March. Mainly affecting school students in Makkah there have also been cases in Jazan and areas as far away as Riyadh, Hail and in neighbouring Kuwait. Read more. More on scabies

    Serbia: Measles death toll rises

    A two-year-old girl from Kragujevca is the latest fatality in the measles outbreak that started in October last year, taking the death toll to 13 from 4,507 cases - the majority were not vaccinated. Read more (translate from German).

    Thailand: New Year dengue risk

    This weekend is the Thai New Year festival, or Songkran, and health authorities are warning of a possible flare-up in dengue fever cases due to recent rains. Bureau of Epidemiology data reveal 3,878 cases reported from 74 provinces to Apr 9. Southern and central provinces have been most affected – highest rates were in Phuket, Samutsakorn, Pangnga and Nakornsrithamarat. Read more

    United States of America: Mumps, measles reports persist

    Mumps cases continue in Hawaii – up to Apr 5 the total had reached 949. The State Department of Health reports that ‘Nearly 60% of cases have been in adults aged 18 years and older. There have been 29 reports of complications due to mumps infection (e.g., orchitis, hearing loss).’ FIVE measles cases in the Bay area of San Francisco (Santa Clara and Alameda Counties) have been linked to an infected traveller returning from Europe; one further contact of the initial case also became infected and had travelled on to Nevada. The San Francisco Department of Public Health advisory stated that none of those infected were vaccinated.

    Advice for travellers: These consequences of mumps outbreaks 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.

    Zambia: Cholera situation deteriorates again

    Following significant improvements in the rates of cholera after early-year vaccinations, existing poor water infrastructure and large population movements have led to a re-emergence of the bacterial infection centred primarily in the Kanyama district of the capital Lusaka. Current bad weather conditions are expected to worsen the situation. Read more. Zambia is just one of the countries highlighted in a cholera report from across the Eastern and Southern African region.