WORLD TRAVEL HEALTH ALERTS – August 24, 2011
– Malaria returns to Greece
– West Nile on the rise in Europe, Middle East
– Dengue Alerts: New focus in Manila
– More measles across the globe
– JE hits Nepal’s north
– Surge of HFMD fatalities in Vietnam
– Bolivia tackles rising rabies problem
– Rotavirus raging across Botswana: 14 dead
– Caribbean neighbours brace for more cholera
– Food poisoning strikes in Tenerife, Ontario
– Pakistan’s polio count reaches 69
– Saudis confirm Hajj visa requirements
– Malaria makes a comeback in Senegal
Malaria returns to Greece
Greece has had its first outbreak of malaria in almost 40 years. Six locally occurring cases of the milder P. vivax strain occurred in Laconia and Evoia, two districts in the southern Peloponnesus region. More details. Travellers were among those infected: one during a stay in southern Elos and Skala, and a German couple while holidaying in Kassandra (Chalkidiki, Greek Macedonia). More details.
Advice to travellers: The malaria risk in Greece is low and Travelvax does not recommend anti-malarial medication at this time. However, as West Nile fever is also circulating (see below), travellers should cover up and regularly apply an insect repellent containing effective active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, to exposed skin when outdoors.
West Nile on the rise in Europe, Middle
Greece has also recorded 22 cases of West Nile virus (WNV) recently, and more are expected as rain and high temperatures boost Aedes and Culex mosquito populations. The mosquito-borne disease is not uncommon in Greece: last year there were 257 cases in Central Macedonia and Thessalia – 191 resulting in severe encephalitis. More details.
Other countries in the region to record WNV cases since July 1 include Albania (2), Israel (6), Romania (1), and the Russian Federation (11). More details.
Advice to travellers: WNV generally causes only mild flu-like symptoms. However, in a small number of cases the virus can cause meningitis or encephalitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the brain or spinal cord. Travellers visiting an infected area should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Dengue Alerts: New focus in Manila
Dengue is still on the rise in Metro Manila. The latest hot spot is Muntinlupa City (the southernmost city in the National Capital Region), with scores of new cases each day. Meanwhile, case numbers are down by 75%in Aklan province (Western Visayas).
The death toll in India’s Orissa state has now risen to 19 among 1163 confirmed or suspected cases.
In Pakistan, outbreaks continue in the national capital, Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad.
In Brazil ,there have been 915 cases in Ribeirao Preto (Sao Paulo State) in the past month for a total of 16,240 this year.
Advice to travellers: We repeat our weekly warning to Australians travelling to the tropics t
o cover up and regularly apply an insect repellent containing an effective active ingredient to exposed skin when outdoors. The mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus inhabit urban areas, including upmarket hotels and resorts. They bite mainly during the daylight hours.
More measles across the globe
Measles outbreaks were reported in Europe, Africa, the USA, and the Pacific this week.
EUROPE: The Continent has now had 26,000 cases, 6 of them fatal. Cases are rising in Dublin, which has over two thirds of Ireland’s 135 cases. More details.
MAYOTTE: An outbreak has been reported on the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, an offshore department of France. More details.
ETHIOPIA: Deaths from measles and malnutrition have reached alarming levels in the Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia, home to 118,000 Somali refugees. More details.
USA: A child infected in Kenya returned home and infected a second child in Minnesota’s Dakota County. Both are in hospital, one in a critical condition. More details.
AUSTRALIA: A German backpacker was diagnosed with measles after arriving in Alice Springs. More details.
In Sydney’s west, Blacktown has had a sharp rise in cases, with most of this year
’s 26 cases in the Mt Druitt area. More details.
NEW ZEALAND: There have been more cases on the North Island – 109 in Auckland, 19 in Waikato. More details.
Advice to travellers: Given the ongoing measles epidemics in many parts of the world, Australian travellers who have not had measles or have not received two documented doses of live virus vaccine should consider a booster, regardless of their destination. We also advise travellers check their immunisation status for childhood diseases such as whooping cough, diphtheria, mumps, and polio, as part of their pre-travel medical preparations.
JE hits Nepal’s north
Japanese encephalitis is circulating in Nepal’s northwest. Two deaths late last month have been followed by 2 more in Kanchanpur last Friday, while Nepalgunj has had more than a dozen cases. Authorities have begun a vaccination campaign. More details.
Surge of HFMD fatalities in Vietnam
Vietnam recorded 11 deaths from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) in the last month, bringing the year’s total to 81 (32,588 cases). The majority have been in southern provinces and cities, especially Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Thanh Hoa, and Vinh Long. More details.
Advice to travellers: HFMD mainly occurs in children. While most recover without treatment, paralysis or death can occur in severe cases. It is spread by direct contac
t with infected persons, or with virus-contaminated surfaces. Good hygiene practices greatly reduce the risk of infection. There is no vaccine or preventative medication.
Bolivia tackles rising rabies problem
In Bolivia, stray dogs are being rounded up in Punata (Arani province) after a surge in attacks on humans by rabid animals in recent weeks. Authorities are concerned at a rising incidence of the disease and have launched a nationwide vaccination campaign. More details.
Advice to travellers: Rabies generally presents a low risk to most short-stay travel. The potential for exposure rises for longer stays – especially for children. Dog bites cause 99% of human fatalities, however travellers should avoid any contact with wild animals or pets. If bitten, urgent post-exposure treatment is required. To discuss the risk of rabies for your itinerary, call Travelvax on 1300 360 164.
Rotavirus raging across Botswana: 14 dead
Botswana is battling a countrywide outbreak of Rotavirus, with at least 14 deaths among 914 cases. Among the district worst effected are Kgatleng (530 cases), Mahalapye (81), Gaborone (78), Kweneng East (77), Ngami (75), and South East with 54. More details.
Caribbean neighbours brace for more cholera
In the Dominican Republic, more cholera is expected in the capital, Santo Domingo, after Hurricane Irene lashed the Caribbean and southern USA this week. The country’s cholera death toll has reached 109 from 15,879 cases since last November. The health ministry says the capital still faces a serious epidemic. More details.
Meanwhile, a new study by American microbiologists has confirmed that UN peacekeeping troops from Nepal introduced cholera to Haiti. The disease has killed some 6000 people in 10 months.
Food poisoning strikes in Tenerife, Ontario
In the Canary Islands, authorities on Tenerife believe a popular local restaurant may be the source of an outbreak of Salmonella. Seven of the 18 victims remained in the island’s hospital on Friday. More details.
Investigations are underway in Ontario (Canada) to find a link in a cluster of genetically similar E. coli 0157 cases in the Grey-Bruce district. Eight people have been hospitalised in recent weeks. More details.
Pakistan’s polio count reaches 69
Pakistan’s polio case tally has risen to 69 with 6 new cases in the last week. Meanwhile, a strike by paramedics in Quetta has hindered a vaccination drive. More details.
Saudis confirm Hajj visa requirements
Saudi Arabia has confirmed vaccination requirements for Muslim pilgrims planning to attend the Hajj, which will fall between November 4 and 9.
Visa applicants will be required to show proof of vaccination against Meningococcal Meningitis with the quadrivalent (ACYW135) vaccine, and seasonal influenza.
Yellow fever and polio vaccination is required from pilgrims travelling from or through endemic regions, mainly in Africa. More details.