Health Alerts
  • Bangladesh: Viral illness strikes Dhaka

    It’s a big outbreak rather than an epidemic, according to a government health official, but either way chikungunya has hit the capital Dhaka. In a separate article, the figure of 2,700 cases since May is quoted, with more than 100 calls a day being made to an infoline that the Health Ministry has set us to respond to chikungunya-related questions from city residents. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Chikungunya virus is spread by the same daytime-feeding mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever. There is no vaccine and preventing infection relies on avoiding mosquito bites. Apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about chikungunyaa and avoiding insect bites.

    Bhutan: Dengue monitored near border

    Dengue fever infections have been recorded in the district of Samtse, a lowland area adjacent to the Indian border. In the past 3 weeks, 21 cases have been identified and local authorities are taking measures to eradicate breeding sites of mosquitoes and also raise public awareness. 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.

    Burundi: Malaria crisis escalates

    Ten provinces situated in the country’s north, centre and east have borne the brunt of the ongoing malaria epidemic. According to a ReliefWeb bulletin, for the year up to June 25, 2017, ‘4,376,804 cases including 1,996 deaths have been reported.’ The ten severely affected provinces are Karusi, Gitega, Muyinga, Kirundo, Kayanza, Ngozi, Bubanza, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, and Ruyigi. 

    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

    Caribbean, Latin America: Sporadic Zika reports

    Details from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have been published on recently recorded spikes in Zika virus infections from areas of Belize, the Turks and Caicos, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. Read the report here

    Advice for travellers: Zika’s symptoms include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis lasting 4-7 days. Long-term ill-effects are rare, although the joint pain may linger for weeks, even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants – even in upmarket hotels and resorts. Transmission of Zika virus has also occurred during pregnancy, breastfeeding, sexually and also through blood or blood products. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the main feeding time for Aedes mosquitoes. All travellers, but particularly pregnant women or those planning pregnancy, should seek medical advice before travel to Zika-affected areas. Read information on smartraveller (DFAT).

    Europe: Measles vigilance continues

    European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) data on the ongoing measles outbreak affecting the region outlines the mounting death toll – 35 (31 in Romania, 2 in Italy, and one each in Germany & Portugal). In the 18 months from January 2016, a staggering 14,000 measles cases have been recorded. The ECDC figures indicate that one quarter of infections where the vaccination status was unknown were in adults aged 25 and above. The level of fully immunised individuals (i.e. received 2 vaccine doses) in the population must be at least 95 percent in order to interrupt the transmission of this highly contagious virus. 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.

    India: Mozzie-borne disease reports flood in

    With the monsoon season underway, dengue and other mosquito-borne disease reports are filtering in from around the country: Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Bihar. Earlier this year, the government released the findings of confirmed Zika virus infections in 3 residents of Gujarat state and this week the news that a 27-year old man from the district of Krishnagiri, SW of Tamil Nadu’s capital of Bengaluru, has tested positive to Zika virus – the first for the state. 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.

    Cote D'ivoire: Capital's dengue spike

    Three of Abidjan’s communes (suburbs) have been hit with dengue fever outbreaks. One, Cocody, is an upmarket area that houses many foreign embassies; the other affected areas are Abobo and Marcory. Read more.

    Japan: Tickborne virus emerges in Hokkaido

    An elderly man from the northern island of Hokkaido has died from tickborne encephalitis (TBE); he became ill last month and succumbed to the viral disease this week. Japan has now recorded 2 deaths, from 3 known cases of TBE. Read more.

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

    Malaysia: Perak’s park risks; Another rabies case in Serian

    A potential source of dengue fever infections has been identified in the capital of Perak state, Ipoh, and it’s where many city residents would go to relax or play – public parks. Breeding sites of dengue mosquitoes, the Aedes aegypti species specifically, have been found in the public areas. Dengue fever numbers have risen considerably in the first 6 months of this year compared to the same period in 2016 - 3,598 against 1,945. Read more.
    A FURTHER rabies case has been reported in Serian Division, Sarawak, taking the total to 4 – all are children 7yo or under. Two of the children have died and the others remain in intensive care in a critical condition. The affected district lies about 75km south of Kuching, the state capital. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Rabies is present in most countries and all travellers should be aware of the importance of avoiding contact with wild and domestic animals – especially dogs, the main source of infection. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. Vaccination is normally recommended for those staying for more than a month, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies.

    Mayotte (French): Typhoid hotspots named

    Two northern towns are at the centre of a typhoid outbreak that has produced nearly a year’s average in 6 months. Typhoid fever is endemic in the French Overseas Region; local health authorities have asked the population to employ strict personal hygiene measures and avoid raw/unwashed foods. 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 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.

    Myanmar: Delta region dengue

    Severe complications of dengue fever have led to the deaths of 19 people this year in the delta region of the Ayeyarwady River. The deaths were recorded among the nearly 1,700 cases with haemorrhagic symptoms of dengue, often a result of a second or more bout of the mosquito-borne viral illness. A rise in the incidence of severe symptoms occurs every 2-3 years. Read more.

    New Zealand: Auckland mumps tops 150 cases

    Over half of the 152 mumps cases recorded in Auckland up to July 12th have come from the city’s western suburbs and males make up the majority. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service is urging residents to ensure they are fully immunised with the free vaccine. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: This 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.

    South America: Yellow fever update; Flu on the rise

    Recent cases of yellow fever have been reported by the PAHO from Ecuador (Sucumbíos province), Peru (Junín department) and Bolivia (Cochabamba Department), while in Brazil, the most recently diagnosed case was in May in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Vigilance is being maintained in all areas which have reported cases due to the presence of the virus in non-human primates. This year over 26 million doses of the yellow fever vaccine have been administered in 5 states: Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. Read more.
    THE WHO global influenza update released this week reveals rising levels of flu activity - ‘In the temperate zone of the Southern Hemisphere, influenza activity increased in most countries in recent weeks.’ Infections are increasing in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, while in Australia and New Zealand activity is average for this stage of the flu season. For a full round-up of the global situation, including Asia and Africa, see the report here

    Advice for travellers: Yellow fever virus is a mosquito-borne disease found in tropical and subtropical areas in Central/South America and Africa. While it can be severe, yellow fever infection is a very rare in Australian travellers. However, under the International Health Regulations (IHR), proof of vaccination may be required of any traveller entering or leaving an area at risk of yellow fever transmission. Read more about yellow fever

    United States of America: Mid-West Hep A uptick

    An outbreak of hepatitis A in the state of Michigan has now caused 10 deaths from 190 confirmed cases. The state capital Detroit, as well as the counties of Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and St. Clair have been affected according to a news release from the Department of Health and Human Services. While no definite source of infection has been discovered, ‘transmission does appear to be person-to-person through illicit drug use, sexual activity, and close contact among household members.’ Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Vaccine-preventable Hepatitis A (HAV) is one of the most common infections affecting travellers. It is a significant risk in most developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking, with an estimated 1.4 million cases occurring worldwide each year. The virus is transmitted by faecally contaminated food and water, or by handling everyday items, such as crafts, money, door-handles etc. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that’s 99%-plus effective and long lasting (20-30 years). It is also important to follow safe food and water guidelines.

    Vietnam: Dengue surge

    There is disagreement as to whether it’s the incidence of dengue fever that has risen, or the amount of testing to confirm the infection, but this year’s figures indicate a 5x increase over last year’s in Hanoi to reach a total of 3,200 cases. Countrywide, the first 6 months of the year saw 45,000 cases, including 19 deaths. Read more.

  • China: Fever spike hits HK kids: JE case in New Territories

    Children under 10 years of age make up most of the Hong Kong residents reported to have contracted scarlet fever this year. The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) announced this week that there have been 1,215 cases to date while advising parents to employ ‘strict personal, hand and environmental hygiene.’ Read more.
    A man aged in his late 30s from a public housing estate (Tin Shui Estate) in the New Territories has been diagnosed with Japanese encephalitis – investigations revealed he had not travelled in the incubation period. A health official stated that Guangdong and Macau authorities have been notified, as have local doctors and hospitals. Residents of the area have been given updates of the situation and offered health briefings. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Scarlet fever is a low risk for travellers. A mild bacterial infection, it generally causes strep throat or, less commonly, streptococcal skin infections. It affects people of any age, but is most common among children. The classic symptom is a sandpaper-like red rash. Scarlet fever is treatable with antibiotics which helps clear up symptoms faster, reduces spread to other people and prevents rare but serious long-term health problems. Read more on scarlet fever.

    France: Hep A source unknown

    Advice to residents in the central department of Indre includes the need to use strict personal hygiene measures and drink bottled water following an outbreak of hepatitis A in the commune of Le Magny. Six adults and 3 children are undergoing treatment, while the as-yet unknown source of the viral outbreak is investigated. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Hepatitis A (HAV) is a vaccine-preventable viral disease passed on to humans by faecally contaminated food and water, or by handling everyday items. 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.

    India: Monsoon-related diseases intensify

    The annual monsoons bring with them the increased risk of mosquito- and water-borne illnesses, and this year the early rains in the state of Kerala have caused a spike in dengue and malaria cases. Government agencies are instituting plans to tackle the diseases in those states already affected (including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and the capital of Haryana/Punjab, Chandigarh) and across the entire country. Read more. In the eastern state of Jharkhand, several cases of what is suspected to be Japanese encephalitis (JE) have been reported in the largest city, Jamshedpur. Read more. A cholera outbreak has been declared in the city of Dabhoi (Vadodara district of Gujarat state); measures to control the spread of the water-borne disease are being implemented. 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

    Malaysia: Rabies strikes in 2 districts

    Five Serian district villages in Borneo’s state of Sarawak have been declared rabies-affected following the deaths of 2 young children and the hospitalisation of a third in a critical condition this week. The incidence of dog bites in the area has risen sharply in the past few months. Read more. Elsewhere in Malaysia, there’s been an outbreak of rabies in the city of Putrajaya, south of Kuala Lumpur, with up to 68 people undergoing post-exposure vaccination. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Rabies is present in most countries and all travellers should be aware of the importance of avoiding contact with wild and domestic animals – especially dogs, the main source of infection. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. Vaccination is normally recommended for those staying for more than a month, especially travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas; however the final recommendation is itinerary-specific. Read more on rabies.

    Myanmar: Two states hit by dengue

    Dengue outbreaks have hit the states of Mon (Ye township) and Kachin (Bhamo, Mansi, Mogaung, Mohnyin, Momauk, Hpakant, Tanai, Myitkyina & Waingmaw townships). Read more.

    New Caledonia: Death toll rises again

    As reported last week, there’s been a sharp reduction in the number of dengue fever cases now the cooler months have arrived; however this week the 11th dengue-related death since January was announced. In view of the 10 or so cases being reported daily, vigilance against mosquito bites must be maintained. Three dengue serotypes are circulating. 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: Teens, young adults in mumps uptick

    Each day in Auckland 5 new mumps cases are reported – mostly in the 10 to 29 years' age groups – adding to the total of 153 cases in the current ‘major outbreak’ (as of July 5th). Details from an Auckland Regional Public Health Service media release point out that: ‘Around 80 percent of the current cases were not fully vaccinated.’ Also: ‘Out of 126 locally acquired cases, 78 of these are Pacific Island people and 26 are Maori. The balance is Pakeha or other ethnicities.’ Read more.

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

    Philippines: Central Luzon rabies vax campaign

    Bataan province’s chief veterinarian has called for all pet owners to vaccinate their animals against rabies following the recent deaths of 3 residents after they were bitten by rabid dogs. Read more.

    Saudi Arabia: Release of Hajj health requirements

    The Ministry of Health (MOH) has released its requirements and recommendations for pilgrims (& workers) to the Hajj which starts in late August. Among the vaccinations prescribed, the 4-in-1 meningococcal meningitis vaccine is required. It must be accompanied with a certificate of vaccination proving it was administered no less than 10 days before arrival and not more than 3 years (for polysaccharide vaccine) and 5 years (conjugate) prior to entry into Saudi Arabia. For all health measures, go to the Health Regulations page of the MOH.

    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. In North Africa’s ‘meningitis belt’, 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.

    Thailand: Zika confirmed in Phichit

    At least 11 people have Zika virus disease in the district of Bung Na Rang in Phichit Province (300km north of Bangkok); a further 27 are under observation waiting confirmation from laboratory tests. In a Bangkok Post article, the governor of Phichit province said ‘There was no reason to panic, Phichit was not the only province where zika cases were reported … . Chaiyaphum, Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai had previously reported a number of cases.’ Insecticide spraying has been underway in the affected district since the news broke. 

    Advice for travellers: Zika’s symptoms include a rash, pain in the joints, and the eye condition, conjunctivitis lasting 4-7 days. Long-term ill-effects are rare, although the joint pain may linger for weeks, even months. Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes which bite by day and are found in urban setting, including leafy gardens and outdoor restaurants – even in upmarket hotels and resorts. Transmission of Zika virus has also occurred during pregnancy, breastfeeding, sexually and also through blood or blood products. Travellers should take particular care to avoid being bitten just after sunrise and just before sunset, the main feeding time for Aedes mosquitoes. All travellers, but particularly pregnant women or those planning pregnancy, should seek medical advice before travel to Zika-affected areas. Read information on smartraveller (DFAT).

    Ukraine: Food safety violations rife

    Seventy-nine of the 83 popular restaurants that have undergone recent food safety testing in the capital Kiev recorded violations and 2 outlets of a chain of sushi restaurants were found to have sickened nearly 40 patrons with salmonella poisoning. New legislation advocates impromptu inspections rather than the previously pre-arranged checks by food authorities. 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.

    United States of America: Possible bumper year for ticks: Mumps island-hops

    A news report provided details on the likelihood of a bad tick season this year following mild winters and plentiful food for a common tick host, the mouse. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Powassan encephalitis are some of the tick-borne infections that could become more prevalent. Read more.
    THE mumps outbreak in Hawaii had produced 133 cases as of June 29th according to a Dept of Health update – almost half were adults. One of the recent cases was recorded on the Big Island – the first Hawaii Island has seen this year. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is the most common human tick-borne infectious disease in the northern hemisphere, occurring mainly in temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia. Ticks can attach to any part of the body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. Infected ticks must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before transmission of the Lyme bacteria can occur, so it’s important travellers conduct a thorough full-body check each day after outdoor activities. The CDC’s Lyme disease factsheet offers more prevention advice.

    Vietnam: Upswing in mozzie diseases

    Dengue fever cases have risen as much as 40 percent over the last month in Ho Chi Minh City and children have been particularly hard hit - 2 paediatric hospitals admit around 120 cases each week. A similar rise in dengue cases has also been reported in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau (also 7 malaria cases). Read more. And in Hanoi, there’s already been a rise in the incidence of both dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. Read more.

  • China: H7N9 cases persist into summer

    Since the first human H7N9 cases were identified in 2013, each year the peak avian influenza season has extended over the winter and into the early spring months. This week an Afludiary post offers a commentary on the current situation noting, ‘… this 5th epidemic wave - apparently driven by multiple genetic changes in the H7N9 virus - has been anything but ordinary. In week 25 (June 18-25), Hong Kong reports what would be a summer's worth of H7N9 cases (n=10) in any other year.’ And ‘the pace of H7N9's evolution and adaptation appears to be picking up. The recent spread … has raised new concerns that H7N9 may not remain just China's problem for much longer.’ Read Aust. Dept. of Health advice for travellers to China here

    India: Kerala’s dengue crisis

    The extent of this year’s dengue fever outbreak in Kerala is unprecedented in the state, as authorities confirm over 8,100 cases (nearly 30,000 more are suspected) and 14 deaths (a further 67 are suspected to be dengue-related). Read more. A news article on other current disease risks in Kerala published this week has provided statistics on  mumps (1563 cases), measles (336), leptospirosis (690) and typhoid (235). 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.

    New Caledonia: Dengue dips into cooler months

    Reports of new dengue fever cases have persisted into June, however there’s been a more than 50 percent decline in notifications over May’s figures. As of June 28th, the Directions des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales had recorded 343 cases for the month (783 in May). Read more.

    New Zealand: South gets viral surge

    Schools in the Otago and Southland regions in the South Island are experiencing a surge in chickenpox cases. This comes as changes to the childhood immunisation schedule are to take effect from July 1st: ‘Funded access of the varicella vaccine will be widened to include one dose for primary vaccination in children at 15 months old and a catch up in general practice of one dose for previously unvaccinated children at 11 years old, who have not previously had a varicella infection (chickenpox).  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.

    Reunion Island: Local dengue spread

    Local dengue fever transmission has contributed 43 cases this year and health authorities have requested that doctors notify them of laboratory-confirmed cases so disease control measures can be instituted. Read more (translate from French).

    Romania: Measles cases top 7,200

    Measles cases have been recorded in 41 counties since the outbreak began in September last year; the total number of infections reached 7,232 (as of June 23rd), with 30 deaths resulting - one further death is currently under investigation. Read more. And in Italy, authorities this week confirmed the death of a 9-year old girl in April was due to measles infection. Read more. The country has recorded 3,074 measles cases this year – mostly among unvaccinated individuals (89% of cases), prompting the enactment of a law which allows fines to be imposed on parents of children over 6yo who are unvaccinated and attending school. 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.

    South America: Influenza takes off

    A round-up of influenza activity issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) this week included reports that the incidence of influenza was on the rise in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay; also in Southern Africa. Influenza notifications in Oceania were ‘low and at inter-seasonal levels below seasonal levels.’ Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The 2017 flu season is underway in the southern hemisphere and Travelvax Australia recommends vaccination for all travellers over 6 months. Seasonal flu is the most common vaccine-preventable travel-related illness, posing a risk aboard aircraft, in crowded airport terminals, and at your destination. 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.

    South Sudan: Famine conditions generate diseases

    The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Eastern Equatoria State has risen to 60, however there are fears that more cases will be found in remote areas. This outbreak, and a refugee crisis, are being blamed on a famine that has affected the country since early this year. Read more  Reports of ‘acute watery diarrhoea’ in parts of Sudan and the extensive cholera outbreak in Yemen have led Egyptian authorities to institute screening of passengers from those countries, checking for signs of the infectious illness. 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

    Taiwan: Flu spikes

    The availability of government funded influenza tests may be one reason why confirmed flu cases have risen sharply so late in the season. Whatever the reason, there has been a marked increase in reported flu-like illnesses - 118,000 cases (& 6 related deaths) last week alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Read more.

    Thailand: Viral disease besets over 20,000 children

    The incidence of hand, foot & mouth disease (HFMD) rose last week, taking the yearly case numbers (mostly children under 4 years of age) to 24,000. Bangkok has seen over three-quarters of the cases, followed by northern areas of the central & southern regions. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Seasonal epidemics of HFMD occur sporadically throughout Asia, mainly affecting young children. Asian countries with recent large increases in reported cases include China, Hong Kong (China), Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam. 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.

    United Arab Emirates: Travellers contract Legionnaires’

    The news content on NHS (Scotland)’s fitfortravel website gives details of the 65 cases of Legionnaire’s disease (including 3 deaths) that have been reported in European travellers to Dubai over the past 9 months. According to the site, ‘Cases have been reported by the United Kingdom (30), Sweden (8), Germany (6), the Netherlands (6), Denmark (4), France (4), Austria (1), Belgium (1), the Czech Republic (1), Hungary (1), Ireland (1), Spain (1) and Switzerland (1)’. Accommodation was primarily in hotels or rental lodgings (59 cases), the remainder were in private dwellings. Read more.  

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

    Vietnam: Dengue rises in Delta

    Three provinces situated in the Mekong Delta region have experienced a rise in dengue fever as the rainy season gets underway. Đồng Tháp, Bến Tre, Cà Mau and Tiền Giang provinces, including Cần Thơ City have been hardest hit. Read more.