Health Alerts
  • Brazil: Regional health organization YF update

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

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

    India: South’s chikungunya upsurge

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

    Advice for travellers: The symptoms of chikungunya fever are similar to dengue fever and both are transmitted by the same mosquitoes – the day-time feeding Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Acute joint pain with a rash is typical of chikungunya and while fatal cases are rare, painful joints may persist for weeks or months after the acute phase has ended. There is no vaccine or prevention medication; using an effective, tropical-strength repellent to avoid insect bites is the best form of protection. Read more about chikungunya.

    Indonesia: Diphtheria cases increase

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

    Malawi: Cholera in north

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

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

    Malaysia: Anticipated end of year dengue upswing

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

    Advice for travellers: Dengue is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes. Both breed close to dwellings, are found in shady areas and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid outdoors. Travellers should cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. Apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    Mexico: West coast dengue data

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

    Namibia: Windhoek’s Hep E spike

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

    Advice for travellers: The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through faecal contamination of drinking water. Unlike the Hep A and B viruses, there is no vaccine for this strain, which is especially common in communities with lower levels of sanitation and hygiene. More than 60% of all hepatitis E infections and 65% of deaths occur in East and South Asia. Read more about the virus and how to prevent infection.

    New Zealand: Auckland outbreak now 'an epidemic'

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

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

    Pakistan: Punjab’s chickenpox rise

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

    Advice for travellers: Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Mainly passed from person to person by coughing or sneezing, it causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. While the illness is generally mild in children, it can be more severe in young babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Read more about chickenpox.

    Poland: Warsaw region Hep A surge

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

    Advice for travellers: Hepatitis A (HAV) is a vaccine-preventable viral disease passed on to humans primarily through oral contact with faeces of an infected person. This can occur through contaminated food and water, by handling everyday items and sexual contact. It is a significant risk in travellers to developing countries where sanitation and hygiene are lacking. A course of hepatitis A vaccine offers immunity that is 99%-plus effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    Saudi Arabia: MERS risk lingers

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

    South Africa: Search for listeria source continues

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

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

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

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

    Zambia: Cholera toll now 25

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

    Zimbabwe: More malaria for Manicaland

    The capital of the province of Manicaland, Mutare, has been added to the list of malaria-affected areas and calls have been made for assistance from the local population in destroying mosquito breeding sites ahead of the peak season in February/March. In a local news report, a senior public health official said: ‘Of the 137 deaths recorded in the province, about 45 percent was recorded in Mutare city.’ Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Malaria is endemic in many areas of southern Africa. Travelvax recommends that travellers visiting this region discuss their itinerary and preventative medication at their nearest Travelvax clinic, or with their healthcare provider. For advice, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164.

  • Australia: Local Men. meningitis C spike

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

    China: Surge in fever cases

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

    Europe: Measles across 30 nations

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

    Advice for travellers: A highly contagious virus, measles occurs in developing and developed countries. While generally benign, infection can result in severe illness or death. Travelvax Australia recommends travellers check their immunisation status for measles and other childhood diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and mumps 6 weeks before departure.

    India: Dengue thrives with late rains; Diphtheria in SW

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

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

    Advice for travellers: Dengue is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes. Both breed close to dwellings, are found in shady areas and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid outdoors. Travellers should cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. Apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    Japan: HFMD at 10-year high

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

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

    Kenya: Cholera in capital, camps

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

    Madagascar: Endemic plague in central region

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

    Niger: Dry season brings early disease threat

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

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

    Nigeria: Plans to tackle YF

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

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

    Samoa: Dengue surge most acute on Upolu

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

    Singapore: Dengue active in 3 clusters

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

    Tanzania: Cholera emerges near southern border

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

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

    Thailand: Flood conditions in south; Road toll first

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

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

    Tonga: Mumps cases top 1,600

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

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

    United Kingdom: Five measles outbreaks

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

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

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

    DISTRICTS of southern Texas, near the Mexican border, remain on alert for Zika virus infections after a case was recently identified in Hidalgo County. Read more

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

    Vietnam: Measles cases climbing

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

    Zambia: The rise, fall and rise of cholera

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

  • Australia: Zika import to QLD; Cruise gastro woes; Another measles scare in Melbourne

    A Queensland man who returned home to Mackay in October after a holiday in Cuba has been diagnosed with Zika virus infection. Read more. Cuba is one of the countries in an updated European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) map on current Zika virus transmission that is classified as Category 1: Area with new introduction or reintroduction with ongoing transmission.

    AN outbreak of gastrointestinal illness due to highly infectious norovirus struck on one of the world’s largest cruise ships as it sailed from Singapore to Hobart – 195 people suffered gastro symptoms and were treated on board. A full disinfection of the vessel will be carried out in Sydney, the next port of call. Read Facts About Noroviruses on Cruise Ships from the US CDC. Read more

    TWO shopping districts in Melbourne have been named as potential risk areas for measles infection. A woman who is believed to have contracted the virus overseas visited those areas recently (Melbourne CBD and Brunswick) while infectious. Read more

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

    Brazil: States’ warning over mozzies

    Eight state capitals are on alert after investigations showed high levels of mosquito larvae in urban areas, indicating a likely rise in the risk of infections such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika virus. Maceió, Manaus, Salvador Vitória, Recife, Natal, Porto Velho and São Luis were identified by the Minister of Health, as were a further 1,139 municipalities. Read more (translate from Portuguese). 

    Advice for travellers: Dengue is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes. Both breed close to dwellings, are found in shady areas and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid outdoors. Travellers should cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks when mosquitoes are most active. Apply repellent containing an active ingredient, such as DEET, Picaridin, or PMD when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    Japan: Early start for flu season

    The first of the month brought with it news that the flu season has started. Highest rates of influenza have been recorded in the prefectures of Okinawan Nagasaki, Ehime, Miyazaki and Ishikawa. Read more

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

    Kenya: Cholera on the rise

    Of the 116 suspected cholera cases in Mombasa County, 34 have been confirmed and there have been 7 resulting deaths. Strict hygiene measures have been introduced to curtail the outbreak, including banning the sale of bottled water (from ‘unscrupulous water bottlers’) and food from hawkers and unlicensed premises. Read more. ProMED reports on cholera, diarrhoea & dysentery in Africa can be found here

    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

    Marshall Islands: Mumps spreads further

    Children and young adults aged 10 to 19 years make up the majority of the 1,204 suspected mumps cases (to Nov 19th) in the capital Majuro and Ebeye in the Kwajalein Atoll. Further spread of the infection to the outer islands has now been identified. Read more

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

    New Zealand: Alert for family gatherings

    A peak in the cycle of whooping cough (pertussis) infections has led to a warning over the Christmas period for families to ensure pregnant women and infants are vaccinated, and for siblings and relatives to avoid close contact with young babies if suffering from a cough. This comes after the Ministry of Health declared a national outbreak - 1,315 pertussis cases have been reported this year. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Travelvax recommends Australians travelling overseas check their immunisation status for childhood diseases such as whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria, measles, mumps, and rubella at least 6 weeks before departure. Read more about pertussis.

    Pakistan: Second strike for polio in Karachi

    An infant who had not received the full course of vaccines is the second case of polio diagnosed in Karachi over the past 3 months. His case takes the national toll for the year to 6. 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; for travel from certain countries there are Temporary Recommendations regarding vaccinations, as outlined by the WHO. If at risk, adults should have a booster to the childhood series. More on poliomyelitis.

    Samoa: Dengue threat requires action

    A NZ news source quotes a local politician asking for schools to be closed until the current dengue outbreak is over. He had been visiting schoolchildren undergoing treatment for symptoms of dengue in overcrowded hospital wards. Read more

    South Africa: Limpopo’s typhoid alert; Listeria deaths reach 36

    The district of Sekhukhune, west of Kruger National Park and in the province of Limpopo, is on alert after samples of water from a canal showed the presence of typhoid bacteria. Drinking tainted water from the canal sickened 60 children and caused the deaths of 2 last month. Read more

    GAUTENG, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have all reported cases of listeriosis, however no specific source of infection has been named as yet. There have been 557 confirmed cases and 36 deaths to date. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Typhoid fever 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 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.

    United Kingdom: Measles warning for residents, travellers

    Health authorities have been notified of measles infections in 3 major cities (Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool) – all those infected had not received the full course of vaccinations. Advice from Public Health England is to check all immunisations are up to date, particularly for those planning travel to Europe where a large outbreak has been underway since January 2016. Read the ECDC monitoring report here

    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.

    United States of America: Typhus in Texas; Cross-country mumps

    Texas has seen a 16-year spike in the incidence of murine typhus, a bacterial infection transmitted by fleas that have fed from infected rodents and cats. Humans usually contract the infection after they scratch a flea bite, causing the insect’s faeces to contaminate the site. Of all US states California, Texas and Hawaii report more cases of murine typhus. Read more from the CDC on murine typhus. Read more

    MUMPS infections are spreading among students of Syracuse University in New York State – a Dec 5 update confirmed 51 cases and a further 81 probable. Hawaii’s mumps tally now sits at 636 with 513 cases in Honolulu, 72 on Hawaii, 48 on Kauai and 3 on Maui (as of Nov 30). Read more. The rise in the prevalence of mumps is also occurring in the municipality of Anchorage, Alaska - the case count since August has climbed to 86. Read more

    Venezuela: Diphtheria deaths

    Two more children have died of diphtheria in the NW state of Mérida, taking to 6 the number of fatalities from the vaccine-preventable disease. In total, 35 suspected or confirmed cases have been recorded this year. Read more (translate from Spanish). Diphtheria has also struck Rohingya refugees housed in temporary settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, with at least 110 suspected infections and 6 deaths already identified by international aid agencies. A WHO press release warns that these ‘cases could be just the tip of the iceberg’. Vaccination campaigns have been carried out in East Java and are planned for 3 other Indonesian provinces (West Java, DKI Jakarta and Banten) in response to a spike in cases of diphtheria this year. An Indonesian news source quotes Ministry of Health figures for January-November: 593 cases and 32 deaths from 95 districts in 20 provinces. Read more about diphtheria from the US CDC.