Health Alerts
  • Australia: Imported measles risk to WA students

    Measles vaccinations have been offered to unimmunised students at a school in Perth, after one pupil returned from a holiday in Europe infected with the highly contagious virus. According to a news article, around half of the 200 enrolled students are unvaccinated, leading to fears of a widespread outbreak in that and associated communities. The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) update on the ongoing measles outbreak reveals that in the first 7 months of this year, Romania reported 6,378 cases (& 34 deaths since Jan 2016), while Italy had 4,001 cases and the UK, 962. 

    Advice for travellers: Measles is a highly contagious virus and can cause serious illness in people of all ages. Most of the cases reported in Australia are linked to overseas travel - both developing and developed countries. 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.

    Cape Verde: Concerning rise in malaria

    The capital of Praia recorded nearly 50 cases of malaria in July, more than for all of 2016. Of some concern, the area is categorised as low risk for malaria transmission and the wet season when cases are more likely hasn’t commenced yet. The World Health Organization (WHO) regional office is assisting in investigations and support. Read more.

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

    French Polynesia: First dengue death of 2017

    A 7 year-old boy who contracted dengue fever while visiting the island of Moorea has died of associated complications, the first such death this year. He is one of the 25+ dengue cases the territory reported in late July – mainly among children. A French language news report identifies the locations of confirmed cases as Bora Bora, Moorea, Raiatea, Rimatara and Tahiti. 

    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.

    Guatemala: Typhoid strikes north

    No source has been identified as yet in an outbreak of typhoid in the town of Dolores in northern Petén Province. Two deaths from 60 cases have now been confirmed, as testing of the water supply and other potential sources of infection continues. Dolores lies approx. 120kms to the south of the ancient Mayan site of Tikal. Read more (translate from Spanish). 

    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.

    India: Monsoon-related diseases climb

    Authorities in the city of Tiruppur in western Tamil Nadu are cracking down on residents who fail to eradicate dengue mosquito breeding grounds around their homes by cutting off their water supply. As many as 65,000 households were deemed to be risk areas and subject to the ruling which aims at reducing dengue fever rates. Read more. The state of Karnataka and the city of Delhi are reporting dengue spikes, while cases of Japanese encephalitis in Assam have exceeded 420, with 58 deaths. Water-borne infections are also on the rise: cholera in Kerala and typhoid fever in northern Andhra Pradesh.

    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

    Cote D'ivoire: Dengue fever hits capital

    The rainy season is in full swing, mosquito breeding sites are abundant and the local population lacks awareness of the dangers of dengue fever. A World Health Organization (WHO) risk assessment of the dengue outbreak that began in late April is moderate on a national level. Most cases have been in the capital, Abidjan. Read more from the WHO. 

    Japan: Ticks on the move

    Western parts of the country have reported higher rates than usual of tick-borne infections, with Mie Prefecture recording 35 of the nation’s 118 cases of Japanese spotted fever. Spread of the infecting ticks from the central and western regions to the east has also been noted. The more serious severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) had sickened 51 people by late July and killed 5, one through a bite from an infected cat. Many of the tick bites apparently went unnoticed until the onset of symptoms. Other tick-borne infections that have been reported in Japan include Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: SFTS causes symptoms including high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, and multiple organ failure. The virus has a 6%–30% case-fatality rate and there is no effective virus. The vector ticks are found in 23 prefectures, ranging from Hokkaido in the north to the island of Kyushu in the south. 

    Laos: Dengue in central, southern provinces

    Dengue fever is ramping up across the country, although the capital Vientiane has been most affected. As many as 5,000 cases & 7 deaths have been reported so far this year, 2,000 of those cases since early July. Read more.

    Malaysia: Diphtheria kills one; A sixth rabies victim

    A young boy who had not completed age-appropriate vaccinations died of diphtheria in late July and two close contacts are being treated after showing mild symptoms of the infection. Local health authorities in Sandakan are currently vaccinating the rest of the household of 18. This news comes in the same week as a report from Singapore outlining another death from diphtheria, this time a Bangladeshi worker who had not been out of the city-state during the incubation period. Two contacts who have shown symptoms of the infection have been isolated in hospital and other contacts are being treated with antibiotics. Read more. More on diphtheria.
    THE sixth rabies case in the current outbreak, a boy aged 7, is in a critical condition in hospital - he was bitten by a dog in mid-July and his condition deteriorated 2 weeks later. His village in Serian, Sarawak is now on the list of 23 rabies-affected areas. 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.

    Nigeria: No let-up in Lassa; Measles alert in east

    Two people died of Lassa fever this week in Lagos and cases continue to be reported from 5 states: (Bauchi, Edo, Ogun, Ondo, and Plateau. A WHO assessment of the situation points out the ‘reports of increasing frequency of Lassa fever cases outside the usual season and from non-endemic areas’ as requiring concerted effort on the part of the government and international agencies, together with rodent control measures from the local population. Read more.
    TARABA state, which borders Cameroon, has reported a measles outbreak in 10 districts affecting 140 - for the most part unvaccinated children under 5. Read more.

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

    Saudi Arabia: Hajj health requirements, MERS precautions

    Smartraveller has issued a bulletin on travel to the Hajj, with many Australians expected to take part in the pilgrimage that draws around 3 million visitors to the kingdom. The advice includes a link to the Ministry of Health website which provides all vaccination requirements, including the mandatory ACWY meningococcal meningitis vaccine. As cases of MERS Co-V continue to be reported, Smartraveller advice also takes in the need to follow strict hygiene measures, avoid contact with sick people and any camels/camel products and lastly, seek medical advice immediately if unwell. 

    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: Flu activity high; Rabies risk in Hua Hin

    Thailand, the Philippines, southern China, Hong Kong and Myanmar are named in the latest WHO influenza update as reporting high flu activity, with all virus subtypes present. In southern hemisphere temperate regions, flu levels across Australia and New Zealand are ‘following seasonal patterns’ or ‘just above the seasonal threshold’, with influenza A(H3N2) & B (Yamagata lineage) predominating.
    A RABID dog has bitten at least 15 people, both residents and foreign tourists, in the beach town of Hua Hin. The local response has been to set us a month-long monitoring zone in the area, stretching 3km south from Klai Kangwon Palace. Rabies post-exposure treatment has been provided to those who were bitten. Read more.

    Uganda: Kampala, Wakiso measles cases

    Children under one year of age are bearing the brunt of a measles outbreak hitting Kamapala and nearby Wakiso district, with 67 suspected cases to date. Health authorities have instituted public education sessions and vaccination campaigns in response. Read more.

    United States of America: Island mumps outbreak tops 200

    The mumps outbreak remains on the Hawaii health department’s radar, with the case count now sitting at 209 on 3 islands – Oahu (191), Kauai (15) & Hawaii (3). The department’s advice: Ensure your family is fully vaccinated with the MMR 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.

  • Australia: Flu season news

    Influenza notifications have climbed 4 weeks earlier than last year according to the Australian Influenza Surveillance Report, which also advised that the numbers of cases are highest in the 85+ years age group, followed by children under 10 years of age.  Local reports of spikes in flu cases have come from NSW and QLD

    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.

    Canada: Smoke hazard warning

    Health warnings have been issued for parts of British Columbia as the numerous bush fires burning produced severe smoke haze. Whistler Mountain and Kamloops are mentioned as 2 of the high risk areas, but Metro Vancouver is also affected and likely to be so for several more days. Read more.

    Cuba: Eye infections surge

    Highly contagious viral conjunctivitis is spreading rapidly in all areas of Cuba, but highest rates have been recorded in and around Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and Havana. Outbreaks occur annually in the Caribbean region from September to December. Read more. More on conjunctivitis

    India: Rise in monsoon-related diseases; Vax campaign tackles 2 viral infections

    Doctors have issues warnings to the local population encouraging measures to avoid infections such as Hepatitis A & E, both more prevalent during the monsoon season. Read more
    Countrywide, dengue fever cases have risen almost 12,000 over last year’s figures along with associated deaths (35:46). Regional dengue reports: Pune & Greater Mumbai (Maharastra state), Delhi, Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu), Kerala, while Karnataka has recorded the highest chikungunya figures (10,241 till July 30th). 
    Japanese encephalitis infections are climbing in Manipur and Assam, while scrub typhus is believed to be the cause of encephalitis in parts of Uttar Pradesh.  
    A MASSIVE vaccination campaign aimed at children aged 9mo – 15 years will get underway this month in the southern state of Telangana. Thousands of children will be immunised against measles and rubella – the state has seen 800 measles cases this year already and up to 3,000 babies have been affected by Congenital Rubella Syndrome (results from infection during pregnancy). 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.

    Iran: Tick-borne illness surfaces in east

    A spate of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever cases has been reported in eastern regions, with 80 infections and 5 deaths confirmed. The transmission of the tick-borne illness is possibly associated with illegal cattle imports. Read more

    Advice for travellers: CCHF virus is transmitted to people either directly by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter. The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, so infection is a low risk to travellers. Read more about the virus.

    Kenya: Cholera spikes in 4 counties

    There’s been no respite from the cholera outbreak that started back in April, with a senior health official naming 4 counties as disease ‘hotspots’: Kisumu, Garissa, Machakos and Nairobi. 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: Dengue tops list

    The Health Minister announced this week that, while dengue fever is the most common of the infectious diseases in Malaysia, measures were already in place to curb the viral illness’ spread. Hand, foot & mouth disease, leptospirosis, hepatitis B and HIV make up the remainder of the top 5 infectious diseases. 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: Fresh foods suspect in contamination

    A number of food and water-borne infections in British travellers caused by the parasite Cyclospora and apparently originating from hotels of the Riviera Maya are being investigated by UK public health authorities. A National Travel Health Network & Centre news post advises that the ‘foods commonly involved are soft fruits ... and salad products' and also, ‘this is the third successive year since 2015 that cases of Cyclospora infection have been reported in travellers returning from Mexico.’ Read more.

    Advice for travellers: A single-celled coccidian parasite, Cyclospora cayetanensis may be a risk for travellers to tropical or subtropical regions where it is found. The microscopic parasite causes watery diarrhoea, nausea, anorexia, abdominal cramps, weight loss and, occasionally, fever that can last for several days – and reoccur - if not treated effectively with antibiotics. Most cases result from consuming food or water containing the parasite, or swallowing contaminated water while swimming. Fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, basil and lettuce washed with contaminated water are common culprits, especially those imported from developing nations. Read more about Cyclospora.

    Nepal: Typhus in Chitwan

    News of a recent spurt in scrub typhus infections - over half of the 39 recently confirmed cases were in Chitwan, an area in the Terai lowlands renowned for its national park. In 2016, over 400 cases (& >13 deaths) were recorded in Nepal. Read more.

    Advice for travellers: Scrub typhus is a bacterial disease passed on to humans by mites that normally live on rodents infected with the disease. Most travel-acquired cases occur when travellers camp, hike, or go river rafting in rural areas in endemic countries. Scrub typhus occurs throughout the Asia-Pacific region, where more than a million cases occur annually. There is no vaccine or prevention medication: avoidance hinges on minimising insect bites. Due to the disease’s 5- to 14-day incubation period, travellers often experience symptoms (fever, headache, malaise, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and a rash) after their trip. Read more about rickettsial diseases.

    Philippines: Island dengue toll rises

    The death toll associated with dengue fever infections in the province of Negros Occidental has climbed to 15. The most recent death occurred in Silas City, near the provincial capital of Bacolod. Read more.

    Portugal: Hep A lingers

    In an update on the hepatitis A outbreak, a further 80 cases were diagnosed in the last month, mostly from Lisbon and Vale do Tejo. This takes the year-to-date total to 402 - almost 90 percent of cases were in men and over half of those contracted the virus through sexual contact. Read more (translate from Portuguese).

    Singapore: Dengue numbers climb, Zika persists in east

    Serangoon North Avenue, the location of the most recent Zika virus cases  – 2 since August 1st - was also the centre of a cluster identified in late June. Read more.  The dengue case count is nearing 1,700 for the year to date – a high risk area as noted on the National Environment Agency website is Bayshore Road, approx. 10kms from Changi Airport. 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). 

    Taiwan: ex Vietnam - Zika virus import

    A man who had been in Ho Chi Minh City for several weeks visiting family has been diagnosed with Zika virus infection on his return to Taipei. Arrival authorities tested him after he was noticed to be suffering a fever. Read more.

    United States of America: Homeless hep A burden

    There are fears outbreaks of hepatitis A underway in 2 counties near Los Angeles could also affect the city. The infection is spreading among homeless people and has already sickened 295 (with 10 deaths) in San Diego County and 38 in Santa Cruz County. Read more.

    Venezuela: Shortages lead to disease spike

    Government figures haven’t been updated in months, but other national heath bodies have put the number of diphtheria cases since September last year at 447. Highest case counts have come from the state of Bolivar, followed by Anzoátegui, Miranda, Monagas, Apure, Sucre and Capital District. Doctors are blaming government inaction and a shortage of vaccines and treatment options for the outbreak. Read more (translate from Spanish). More on diphtheria.

    Vietnam: Rains bring dengue and more

    A 12.6 percent rise in dengue infections over the same period last year has led the prime minister to call for stronger measures to tackle the mosquito-borne virus. Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hanoi have recorded the highest figures to date – HCMC fared the worst with 12,000 cases since the beginning of the year and 4 deaths. Read more. The rainy season has also brought along a corresponding rise in other infections such as malaria, gastrointestinal illnesses and conjunctivitis. Read more

    Yemen: Cholera blow to 5 governates

    The latest wave of cholera has caused over 430,000 infections and 24 deaths across a large swathe of the country. A World Health Organization update names the governates with over half of the cases as Al Hudaydah, Amanat Al Asimah, Hajjah, Amran and Dhamar. 

  • Australia: Flu update; QLD’s mozzie burden

    The Health Dept's most recent Influenza Surveillance Report notes that the components of this year’s flu vaccine look to be a good match with the current circulating strains. Low or sporadic influenza activity is being seen in some rural parts of WA, the NT and Far North Qld while the remainder of the country is following seasonal norms. The latest WHO influenza update reports that temperate regions of southern Africa and South America are showing increased influenza activity. 
    A total of 1,830 mosquito-borne infections have been reported in Qld so far this year. The numbers include Ross River and Barmah Forest Virus cases from Cairns, Townsville and the Darling Downs.

    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.

    Bolivia: YF case for Cochabamba

    A fifth case of yellow fever for the year has been identified in the central city of Cochabamba, approx. half way between La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. In response, surveillance has been stepped up in the area and vaccinations will be offered to at-risk individuals. Read more (translate from Spanish).

    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. 

    Brazil: Chikungunya strikes in Ceará

    The state of Ceará in Brazil’s NE is experiencing a spike in chikungunya cases, with up to 60,000 recorded to date from most regions. Since the mosquito-borne viral illness arrived in the Caribbean in 2013, it has caused nearly 2.5 million infections. 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 chikungunya and avoiding insect bites.

    China: JE from donated blood

    Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection last week confirmed a case of Japanese encephalitis infection contracted through the transfusion of donated blood. The patient, a 52yo man, is still undergoing treatment in hospital. Investigations of this first recorded local case, revealed the blood was donated by an asymptomatic man who lived in Tin Shui Wai in the New Territories. 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

    India: JE, dengue, chikungunya round-up

    As the Japanese encephalitis (JE) season moves towards its peak, reports of JE infections and resulting deaths are emerging from both Uttar Pradesh and Assam, two of the states that record high annual JE rates Read more. As the monsoon season moves along, dengue and chikungunya infections are reported to be on the rise in Gujarat, Delhi, Karnataka and Kerala

    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.

    Kenya: Cholera lingers

    International aid is being sought as the government attempts to stem a cholera outbreak that some doctors say has been ongoing since December last year. Areas affected include Lamu, Mombasa, Nairobi, and Kisumu. Hospitals are struggling to cope as staff numbers are already reduced due to a nurses’ strike which has been underway for more than 50 days. 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: Rabies alert spreads

    Twenty-two areas of Sarawak have been declared rabies-affected, an increase of 2 from last week, as health authorities announced the death of the fifth victim on Sunday. Rabies awareness campaigns, dog bite clinics and vaccination drives are just some of the initiatives the local government has instituted in response to the outbreak. 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 recommendations are itinerary-specific but include those travellers planning to live in, or travel extensively through, rural areas. Read more on rabies. 

    Nigeria: Hep E persists in Borno

    In the NE state of Borno, hepatitis E continues to ravage communities, taking its toll on pregnant women in particular. Recent increases have been observed in Ngala and Damasak, but the state health ministry is reporting as many as 562 cases (both suspected and confirmed). Read more.

    Advice for travellers: The hepatitis E virus is transmitted mainly through faecal contamination of drinking water. The virus is found worldwide, mainly in communities with low levels of sanitation and hygiene. There is no vaccine. More than 60% of all hepatitis E infections and 65% of deaths occur in East and South Asia, with up 1-in-4 people in some age groups having been exposed to the virus. Women in their 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy are particularly susceptible to severe complications. Read more about the virus and how to prevent it.

    Pakistan: Measles toll tops 10

    A measles outbreak in the SE port city of Chittagong has sickened over 100 children and killed 10. Many children remain in hospital for management of complications. Read more.

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

    Philippines: Dengue strikes island group

    Half a million children in towns and cities in Central Visayas are eligible for vaccination against dengue fever. Currently young children are bearing the brunt of dengue infections in the province, making up most of the 72 deaths recorded this year (from 7,095 cases). The only available vaccine, which is licenced for the ages of 9 to 45, is recommended for residents of dengue endemic countries. Read more

    Sri Lanka: Triple dengue effect

    The dengue epidemic continues to rage and is concentrated on the western region. International headlines have been made as the death toll nears 300 from over 107,000 cases. A Red Cross official has called the situation ‘unusual’, adding that there is ‘always a peak [in dengue fever cases] during rainy seasons, but this one is three times higher.’ Read more

    United States of America: Texas Zika case; Hawaii mumps tops 172

    The US’ first Zika virus case this year – in Hidalgo County, Texas - was announced this week. A news release from the local health department said there was no risk the person could still transmit the infection as it ‘was probably transmitted by a mosquito bite in South Texas sometime in the last few months with having probably occurred weeks ago.’ Hidalgo County lies in the south of the state, bordering Mexico. 
    HAWAII’S mumps case numbers haven’t been updated since July 20th when the health department put the figure at 172 cases - over 40 percent of those aged 18 and older. 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: Dengue, north to south

    An undersupply of treatment drugs and staff is hampering the government’s ability to tackle the dengue fever outbreak that has produced 58,000 infections and 15 deaths. The deputy head of the Health Ministry believes a ‘massive health crisis’ is looming. Areas badly affected include the 2 largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang, Binh Duong, An Giang, Dong Nai, Dong Thap, Soc Trang, Khanh Hoa and Tien Giang. Read more.