Health Alerts
  • Afghanistan: Global polio update

    From the Oct 3rd global round up of polio: one case of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) from Kandahar province, and in Pakistan, reporting of 7 WPV1-positive environmental samples. The 2018 year-to-date WPV count is now 19 - 15 in Afghanistan and 4 in Pakistan. No new circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) cases were recorded in Papua New Guinea, Niger, the DRC and Syria in the previous week, however three more cases of cVDPV2 were reported in Nigeria (Jigawa). 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, however vaccination is recommended for travel to affected regions and is a requirement for travel to/from some countries. If at risk, adults should have a booster to the childhood series. More on polio

    Central African Republic: Two disease alerts

    Outbreaks of both hepatitis E and monkeypox are ongoing: hepatitis E in the NW region (five localities in Bocaranga-Koui Health District) has international agencies on the alert due to the risk of further extension; while three southern regions have reported monkeypox - ‘in the rural district of Mbaiki, located 107 km from the capital, Bangui, and at the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo’. Read more. The CAR is just one of several countries in the region reporting monkeypox cases since 2016: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, and Sierra Leone. Read the WHO disease outbreak news on monkeypox in Nigeria dated Oct 5 here

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

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Ebola-affected areas ‘now cover hundreds of kilometres’

    Community resistance continues in some areas in response to the measures required to limit the spread of Ebola – vaccination, contact tracing, 21 day monitoring and safe burials. This has allowed new cases and deaths to increase substantially this week, with 14 more cases reported over a 3-day period. Read more. The health ministry’s Ebola Surveillance Dashboard puts the confirmed and suspected cases at 188 with 118 deaths. The latest WHO situation report notes that ‘Beni, Butembo and Mabalako continue to report an increasing number of new cases, indicating the persistence of Ebola virus transmission in these areas.’ 

    Advice for travellers: Ebola Virus disease is a severe viral haemorrhagic fever found in humans and other primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). It spreads through families and friends in close contact with blood and infectious secretions of people with obvious symptoms and, as such, presents a low risk to tourists to the affected countries. Read more about Ebola virus disease.

    Fiji: Typhoid in 2 Viti Levu provinces

    From early August until Sept 20th, a total of 26 typhoid fever infections were reported from two provinces on the largest island, Viti Levu. In a regional update, ReliefWeb posted that the affected provinces were ‘Naitasiri (in three villages and one settlement) and Navosa (Naveyago village)’, situated in the island’s centre and south-west. Investigations into the source/s of infection are ongoing. 

    Advice for travellers: Typhoid occurs in some Pacific countries, although it presents a low risk for travellers staying in hotels or resorts. Travellers should follow safe food and water guidelines, and personal hygiene practices. Vaccination is generally recommended for travellers staying in rural areas, as well as for adventurous eaters. Read more about typhoid.

    India: Zika in Rajasthan; Mozzies persist due to end of season rains

    From Jaipur’s first Zika virus infection, which was confirmed in the Rajasthan capital on Sept 23rd, further testing has identified a total of 29 cases - the largest count in India to date. All confirmed infections have been in a northern area of Jaipur, Shahstri Nagar. A team of experts has been sent to the city to assist with control measures while the NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control) monitors the outbreak. Read more
    INTERMITTENT rain is allowing disease-carrying mosquitoes to breed, adding to the number of dengue fever, chikungunya and malaria cases being reported in Delhi. The city has also experienced a sharp rise in flu infections.  A recent rise in chikungunya infections in the city of Vadodara, in the western state of Gujarat has officials concerned. The end of the monsoons will bring about a reduction in the number of leptospirosis infections which have killed 12 people in Mumbai this year, but dengue fever is likely to affect the city until November. Scrub typhus has killed more people than dengue fever in Himachal Pradesh – Shimla reported 12 deaths due to the mite-borne disease. In neighbouring Bangladesh, this year has proved to be a record for dengue fever infections – the highest tally since the virus was first detected in the country in the year 2000. Dhaka has recorded most cases. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Dengue occurs throughout India – both in urban and rural areas. The virus is spread by two types of Aedes mosquitoes. Both breed in shady places close to dwellings and bite mainly during the daylight hours, making them difficult to avoid when 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 oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD) when outdoors to all exposed skin. Read more about dengue fever and preventing insect bites.

    Ireland: Mumps in western counties

    As many as 45 teenagers and adults up to 29 years of age have been infected with mumps over a 7-week period in three western counties - Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon. Read more

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

    Japan: Rubella cases top 770

    The outbreak of rubella (German measles) continues, with a further 104 cases recorded at the end of September taking the year-to-date total to 770 – an 8-fold increase on 2017 figures. While Tokyo is reporting most cases, according to a news report, rubella infections occurred in 40 of the 47 provinces in the week. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Rubella is spread by airborne droplets and can cause serious birth defects if infection occurs during early pregnancy. Rubella is the 'R' component in the triple MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, one of the routine immunisations which should be current for prior to overseas travel. Travellers should also check their immunisation status for tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough. Read more about rubella.

    Mauritania: Dengue following rains

    A dengue fever outbreak is underway in the iron ore mining centre of Zourate, with one local news source claiming there are up to 20 new cases every day. Read more

    Mexico: Dengue in south, alert for north

    Almost half of all dengue fever cases recorded in Mexico have been in the southern state of Chiapas, bordering Guatemala. The state has also had 15 of the 19 deaths reported nationwide this year. Read more. While in Baja California, dengue alerts have been issued for four localities - Mexicali, San Felipe, El Rosario and Isla de Cedros – following recent flooding. Read more

    Spain: Locally-acquired dengue reported

    Health authorities reported on two locally-acquired dengue fever infections, and another which is suspected, from August. The confirmed cases live in the SE province of Murcia and had no history of travel. One of the dengue fever vectors, Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, has an established presence along Spain’s Mediterranean coastline. Read more

    United States of America: Flea-borne infection in LA County

    Up to 57 cases of murine typhus have been reported in parts of Los Angeles County over the past months – Pasadena, Long Beach and downtown LA. The Pasadena Health Department news item outlining the epidemic notes that ‘Flea-borne typhus is found regularly in Los Angeles County, especially Pasadena, with most cases occurring in the summer and fall months. Read more. The flea-borne infection is contracted when people come into contact with fleas infected with Rickettsia typhi – most commonly when an infected flea’s faeces are rubbed into broken skin. More on murine typhus from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Zimbabwe: Cholera outbreak deepens, first round of vaccinations in Harare

    In a further worsening of the cholera outbreak, the WHO reported at the end of last week that nearly 5,000 new cases have been identified since Sept 20th, taking the total number of cases to over 8,500 with 50 deaths. South-western districts of Harare remain those most affected, in particular Glen View and Burdiriro, but 135 cases have been reported in other provinces. The WHO assessment also notes that ‘available response capacities are overstretched as authorities are already responding to a large typhoid outbreak which started in August 2018’. Read more. A regional cholera update includes information on Tanzania (Arusha, Manyara and Rukwa regions) and Somalia (regions of Banadir and Lower Jubba).

    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

  • Chile: Hep A in central regions

    Hepatitis A cases have surged in the central regions of Bio Bio and Nuble, increasing by 140 percent since last year. One of the likely reasons given for the increase is the incorrect preparation of seafood for consumption – the coastal city of Coronel has recorded more cases than other districts. 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 highly effective and protects for 20-30 years. Travellers should also follow these guidelines for safe food and water.

    China: Hep E virus jumps species, from rat to human; More dengue in Macau; HIV/AIDS spike

    A man living in a public housing estate in Kowloon, Hong Kong, has been diagnosed with a form of hepatitis E previously found only in rats – the first such case. It is thought he may have become infected after consuming food contaminated with rat droppings containing the virus. The man’s abnormal liver function was being monitored after undergoing a liver transplant. Read more
    IN MACAU, a further three locally acquired dengue fever cases have been identified in a family group living near the landmark Ruins of St Paul. The first case was diagnosed last week, followed by the man’s son and grandson. Health authorities are working to clean up the area but say more cases could come forward. Read more
    HIV/AIDS diagnoses have increased by 14 percent in China this year - up by 100,000 to 820,000 cases - with sexual contact the most common form of transmission. Read more

    Czech Republic: First human WNV cases

    While mosquitoes and horses have been found to be infected with West Nile virus (WNV) in the Czech Republic, there had been no confirmed infections in humans – until this week. A senior health official confirmed the death of an elderly woman from WNV in the southern town of Breclav at the end of last week and, in a separate report, a man has been admitted to the same hospital for treatment of WNV infection. Read more. The 2018 WNV season has been particularly bad across the region with a three-fold increase in cases. This week the death toll from complications of WNV infection rose to 15 in the NE Veneto region of ItalyRead more

    Advice for travellers: Most human WNV infections (70-80%) are mild, subclinical or asymptomatic, but around 1-in-150 cases involve potentially severe neuroinvasive disease. The virus is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes, which feed mainly around dawn and dusk. While the risk of infection for most travellers is generally low, those visiting regions reporting human cases, particularly the peak transmission season, should take measures to avoid mosquito bites

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Risk of Ebola spread increased

    The combination of local conflict, a mobile population, community resistance and distrust of government activities has caused the WHO to raise the level of alert for the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the NE provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. The WHO announced ‘the risk of national and regional spread is very high’ while advocating that ‘it is important for neighbouring provinces and countries to enhance surveillance and preparedness activities’. Read the latest situation report issued by the dept. of health in the DRC.

    Advice for travellers: Ebola Virus disease is a severe viral haemorrhagic fever found in humans and other primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). It spreads through families and friends in close contact with blood and infectious secretions of people with obvious symptoms and, as such, presents a low risk to tourists to the affected countries. Read more about Ebola virus disease.

    India: Dengue updates for northern states

    Previously unaffected areas of the northern hill state of Uttarakhand, in the central north, are currently reporting dengue fever cases and, elsewhere in the north, after dengue outbreaks were announced in some Punjab districts health officials have put the city of Ludhiana on alert. Residents have been reminded to take measures to avoid mosquito bites during the day. The death toll from dengue fever is now 11 in West Bengal’s capital of Kolkata but it’s the northern districts of the state that are faring the worst from a rise in dengue infections. 

    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. 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.

    Madagascar: Plague claims more lives

    Five regions (HauteMatsiatra, Amoron’I Mania, Itasy, Vakinankaratra, and Analamanga) which are endemic for plague have recorded cases since mid-August – of the 25, 19 are suspected cases. A WHO situation report notes ‘Although bubonic cases are predominantly reported during the endemic season [September to April], pneumonic cases are also expected’. To date, just over half of cases – both confirmed and suspected – have been the pneumonic form. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Plague occurs annually in Madagascar, but poses a low risk to most travellers. Most cases of plague are due to bubonic plague following the bite of an infected flea carried by rats. If left untreated, infection of the lungs causes the pneumonic form of plague, a severe respiratory illness, which can progress rapidly to death. Read more on the plague

    Malaysia: Rabies risk locations upped to 41

    Seven new rabies risk locations have been announced in Sarawak taking the total to 41. Two in Miri are hundreds of kilometres from previously identified areas (including the site of the most recent human rabies case in Sri Aman), while the remaining five are in Sibu, Bintangor and Kapit. A committee set up to manage disasters has instructed dog owners to get their animals vaccinated against rabies and report potential exposures promptly. 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 or repeatedly through, endemic countries. Read more on rabies

    Papua New Guinea: Polio situation update, 1 death

    The regional WHO representative has announced the death of one of the (now) 14 polio cases, a child from Enga, and the reporting of a further two cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus in the provinces of Jikawa and Eastern Highlands. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative organisation notes that ‘detection and reporting of new cases at this point in the outbreak response is not unusual or unexpected, as surveillance is being strengthened, and reported and confirmed cases had onset of paralysis prior to the commencement of comprehensive outbreak response’. The advice remains: ‘all travellers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. Residents (and visitors for more than 4 weeks) from infected areas should receive an additional dose of OPV or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel’. 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, however vaccination is recommended for travel to affected regions and is a requirement for travel to/from some countries. If at risk, adults should have a booster to the childhood series. More on polio

    Philippines: Luzon’s dengue surge; Bicol and measles

    Dengue fever cases have increased by almost 90 percent this year in the province of Pangasinan, in central western Luzon. The death toll now sits at 25, from more than 6,200 cases and a ‘dengue watchlist’ has been put in place for seven towns and three cities, including the provincial capital Lingayen. Read more
    THE REGION of Bicol has experienced a surge in measles cases this year – more than three times 2017 figures for the same period. Of the six provinces in Bicol, those with highest case numbers are Masbate, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte. Six deaths have resulted from measles complications. Read more

    South Africa: Rabies cases hit 10-year high

    Included in a statement issued on the eve of World Rabies Day, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases called for a response to the 10-year peak in human rabies cases - seven cases in KwaZulu-Natal, six in Eastern Cape and two more suspected but unconfirmed – none of whom had ‘sought medical intervention after being bitten by a dog or cat’. Both provinces had reported outbreaks of rabies in dogs.

    Tunisia: Leishmaniasis spreading in Kairouan

    Over 65 cases of leishmaniasis have occurred in the inland Governate of Kairouan during the annual peak season for the sand fly-borne infection. Southern districts have reported the infections – Cherrarda, Bouhajla and Nasrallah. Read more

    Advice for travellers: Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease spread by infected sand flies and is found in the tropics and subtropics, as well as in southern Europe. There are two main forms – cutaneous and visceral. The former causes skin ulcers, the latter a severe systemic disease that is usually fatal without treatment. Read more on the disease, where it’s found and how prevent it.

    Vietnam: Viral illnesses strike children in southern provinces

    The incidence of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) has climbed sharply this month, with more than 12,000 new cases taking the total for the year to 42,700 – almost half of those have required admission to hospital. It’s the southern provinces that have been hardest hit - at just one of Ho Chi Minh City’s children’s hospitals, new HFMD cases increased 5-fold and doctors have confirmed that many of those hospitalised have the potentially severe EV71 strain. Up to 90 children a day suffering from HFMD are being admitted to hospitals in the neighbouring province of Dong Nai. Read more. Measles is also spreading fast among children in provinces surrounding Ho Chi Minh City, including Dong Nai (also Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau). 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.

    Zimbabwe: Cholera situation a ‘serious concern’

    In a statement on the current situation of cholera in Zimbabwe, the WHO admits that the extent of the outbreak is a ‘serious concern’. Local and international agencies are working to halt the spread of cholera through vaccination, the provision of safe water and repairs to supply infrastructure. Up to Sept 28 there had been 7,148 cases and 49 deaths – more than half of cases with confirmed ages were in the five to 35 years age group. 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

  • Bangladesh: Late dengue peak for capital

    Dhaka’s dengue fever cases have exceeded 5,200 this year but authorities are admitting there will be many more that go unreported – southern districts have been hardest hit. In a bad year for dengue, related deaths have risen to a 15-year high. 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. 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.

    Chile: Cholera in 3 regions

    Since June more than 30 people with no recent history of travel have been diagnosed with cholera, and investigations continue as to the causes of infection. The three regions reporting cases are La Florida, Valparaiso and Atacama. 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

    Colombia: Port city’s dengue alert

    Health alerts have been issued for eight localities due to a rise in dengue fever cases. Included in the alert is the northern department of Atlántico which has experienced a 50 percent rise in dengue infections. Around half of cases have been in the municipality of Soledad in the popular port city of Baranquilla. Read more

    Cuba: Fever cases in east and west

    Stronger mosquito control measures have been called for in the eastern province of Holguín after reports of dengue fever cases in eight provincial towns. In a (computer translated) local news report, a public health official confirmed that ‘fever cases related to Dengue and Zika, arboviruses transmitted by Aedes Aegypti, have increased’. Earlier this month, local media reported isolated Zika virus cases in Pinar de Rio, the westernmost province of Cuba.

    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). 

    Democratic Republic of Congo: Latest update, response meets conflict

    The WHO has recommended caution while delivering news that control measures are working in the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak. Updates from this week include information on a confirmed EVD case in a new area - Tchomia Health Zone in Ituri Province, bordering Uganda. It has also been reported that the Tchomia case had ‘actively avoided [WHO] teams and refused care. Read more. Violence in the response centre’s base of Beni is limiting treatment and surveillance measures, leading a senior WHO official to caution of ‘a "perfect storm" of active conflict and traumatized communities [which] could enable the deadly disease to spread’. Read more. Latest figures indicate there have been 120 confirmed and 30 probable Ebola virus disease cases and almost 12,000 people have been vaccinated. 

    Advice for travellers: Ebola virus disease is a severe viral haemorrhagic fever found in humans and other primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). It spreads through families and friends in close contact with blood and infectious secretions of people with obvious symptoms and, as such, presents a low risk to tourists to the affected countries. Read more about Ebola virus disease.

    Europe: More than 1,100 cases this WNV season

    In the latest reporting week, 186 new West Nile Virus (WNV) cases were reported in the region. Of those over 90 were in Italy, ‘Greece (32), Romania (33), Hungary (12) and Croatia (11)’. This WNV season has been more severe and started earlier in the year. Read more. All details are outlined in the Sept 22 update from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC). 

    Advice for travellers: Most human WNV infections (70-80%) are mild, subclinical or asymptomatic, but around 1-in-150 cases involve potentially severe neuroinvasive disease. The virus is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes, which feed mainly around dawn and dusk. While the risk of infection for most travellers is generally low, those visiting regions reporting human cases, particularly the peak transmission season, should take measures to avoid mosquito bites

    India: Zika in Rajasthan; Diphtheria cases treated in Delhi; Dengue peaking

    A single case of Zika virus disease has been confirmed in a resident of Jaipur in Rajasthan this month. The state’s health minister has cancelled leave for all medical providers to deal with this and other seasonal illnesses, including dengue fever, malaria and scrub typhus. Further investigations into Rajasthan’s Zika case are being carried out by a medical team that includes the director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) – this is the first case of Zika identified in Rajasthan, the previous (4) confirmed infections were in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Read more
    A CHILDREN'S hospital in Delhi treated 147 children aged nine years or under for diphtheria over a 17 day period this month, 18 of them died from the infection. According to a news report, only 14 of the children were from Delhi, the remainder were from Uttar Pradesh (122) and Haryana (11). Read more
    SEPTEMBER has proved to be the peak month for dengue fever infections in Delhi, however the total is less than one quarter of that reported in the city last year. While in eastern Maharashtra state, the region of Vidarbha is experiencing a surge in dengue fever and scrub typhus cases.

    Advice for travellers: Spread by coughing and sneezing or or by direct contact with wounds or items soiled by infected persons, diphtheria is one of the infectious diseases prevented through routine childhood vaccination. It is also a component in the vaccine given to pregnant women for the prevention of pertussis. Read more on diphtheria.

    Japan: STI rate increases

    Rates of the sexually transmitted infection syphilis have been climbing across the country for the past seven years, but it’s Tokyo, Osaka and Okayama Prefecture that have the highest incidence. As outlined in a news report, the rise has been particularly noticeable among young Japanese women, increasing by as much as ten times over three years. Last year’s national total of more than 5,800 syphilis cases was a 44-year peak in infections but year-to-date, this year is higher.

    Advice for travellers: Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium that enters through wounded skin or mucous membranes. You can get syphilis by direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Infections can cause long-term complications if not treated correctly with an effective antibiotic. Read more about syphilis and other STIs.

    Laos: Dengue surges in 3 provinces

    The highest rates of dengue fever infections and dengue-related deaths this year have been recorded in the central province of Savannakhet, followed by Attapeu and Champassak in the south – the national count to Sept. 14 is 4,600 infections and 14 deaths (the capital Vientiane has reported 585 dengue cases but no associated deaths). The government has said it is committed to reducing the burden of dengue fever by using public awareness campaigns and promoting clean-ups in local areas. Read more

    Mauritius: Measles cases exceed 1,000

    A local news site reports on a further increase in measles infections, climbing to 1,022 cases since the outbreak began in March. The most affected age group is adults from 20 to 49 years of age and the districts, Port-Louis, Rivière-Noire and Plaines-Wilhems. The death toll remains at 3 (immunocompromised women aged 29-31 years) and occurred in June . 

    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.

    Niger: Cholera persists in southern border areas

    More cholera cases have been recorded in the central south, bordering areas of Nigeria which are also experiencing outbreaks. The regional WHO update notes that ‘The ongoing rainy season and the increase in cholera cases in Katsina State in Nigeria provide the potential for further spread of the disease both within Niger and across the border with Nigeria’. In the 12 weeks since the outbreak was first announced, there have been over 3,400 cases and 67 deaths in the affected region of Niger. Read more

    Sudan: Kassala outbreak worsens

    The outbreak of what is suspected to be chikungunya that is affecting the eastern district of Kassala, as reported on Sept 13, has expanded significantly with the case count now totalling over 11,000. Chikungunya may not be the only virus circulating, with some reports of dengue fever transmission also. 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.

    United Kingdom: Secondary case of monkeypox

    A healthcare worker who was caring for one of the recent monkeypox cases after his arrival in the UK from Nigeria has been diagnosed with the infection. It appears that strict personal protective measures were not used by those staff members having close contact with the patient prior to the confirmation of the diagnosis. As a result their health was being closely monitored for the maximum duration of the incubation period, 21 days. Read more. More on the current situation regarding monkeypox in Nigeria can be found here.

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

    Venezuela: Local and regional impacts of 2 vaccine-preventable diseases

    The spread of measles both within Venezuela and to regional countries is highlighted in a Sept 21 PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) report. Venezuela has recorded more than 4,600 measles infections and 61 deaths this year (to Sept 1) from ‘all states and the Capital District’. Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia have all confirmed imported or import-related infections. As a result, advice to national authorities provided to Member States by the PAHO includes ‘all travelers aged 6-months and older who cannot show proof of vaccination or immunity, receive the measles and rubella vaccine, preferably the triple viral vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella - MMR), at least two weeks before traveling to areas where measles transmission has been documented. The recommendations for advice for travelers are available in the 27 October 2017 PAHO/ WHO Epidemiological Update on Measles‘.
    ALSO from the PAHO, a regional update on the current situation on diphtheria: The bacterial infection has spread to 22 of Venezuela’s states and capital district – 660 cases and 81 deaths this year, with the highest incidence in children from 10 to 14 years. Among those countries reporting to the PAHO, Haiti is also experiencing high rates of diphtheria – this year there have been 281 probable cases and 22 deaths. Nearly two-thirds of cases were in children under 14 years of age. PAHO advice is for going to countries with outbreaks to be ‘properly vaccinated prior to travel’ while noting they ‘don’t have ‘a special risk for diphtheria infection’. 

    Zimbabwe: Response to cholera outbreak as death toll rises to 49

    A multi-drug resistant strain of cholera is continuing to produce cases - mainly from Harare, but also in Makoni and Masvingo. The death toll has climbed to 49 from nearly 6,645 suspected cases and with the assistance of the WHO, a vaccination campaign has been announced for the worst hit districts. Read more. The Sept 20 WHO Disease Outbreak News can be read here.