Ebola – International Developments, October 10th 2014

WORLD HEALTH ALERT – OCT 10 2014: Ebola Outbreak Update. Hantavirus in Panama. Chikungunya Central and South America and MERS in Saudi Arabia.

Ebola – International

While the world watches day-to-day developments in history’s worst Ebola outbreak, natural emotions, including fear, anxiety and frustration, are becoming cause for concern, and adding an additional factor to the situation. A news item today relates an incident that involved a passenger on a flight to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean being removed from the plane after announcing to everyone on board that he had Ebola, and they were all in danger. As it turned out, this was not the case.

Concurrent with that story we have a more disturbing report that Australian Federal MP, Bob Katter, has vehemently demanded quarantine resorts be set up for Australian healthcare workers returning from West Africa to protect the rest of the country.

During these difficult days travellers should bear in mind that travel will become increasingly more demanding and risky. An extra measure of patience and understanding will be required, during delays involving airport screening, and border checks, as well as an awareness that other passengers could be fearful and nervous, and could behave unpredictably.

Ebola – Paris

A woman, recently returned from West Africa, is being kept in isolation at Bichat Hospital in Paris, due to a suspected case of Ebola. Results of tests carried out on the patient are expected to be released on Saturday.

Ebola – Liberia

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia has dismissed Government Ministers and other senior officials who have defied an order to return home, as part of emergency measures to combat the Ebola outbreak. Liberia continues to battle the worst Ebola outbreak in history, since the first cases were recorded in March 2014.

MERS – Saudi Arabia

With a total of 749 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome having been recorded in Saudi Arabia so far this year, including 8 new cases registered by the Ministry of Health since September, the World Health Organization has taken steps to help slow the progress of the disease. In light of the annual HAJJ pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the largest mass gatherings in the world, a short video has been published showing basic preventive measures to help pilgrims avoid contracting the virus. While officially, HAJJ has ended, millions will doubtless remain in the region for some time, and, it is hoped that the information provided in this video will be retained and used regularly.

Hantavirus – Panama

In Los Santos Province, Panama, the spread of the Hantavirus is cause for concern as the 62nd case is now confirmed. In the most recent cases, the more serious strain of Hantavirus Pulmonary syndrome has been identified. This virus is carried by rats and is said to be endemic to the region, however, the number of cases reported this year is much higher than would normally be expected.

Chikungunya – Central and South America

El SalvadorChikungunya Fever has now neared 30,000 cases in El Salvador, primarily in and around the capital of San Salvador, and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control now have travel advisories issued for four Central-American countries including El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama.

In South America, the C.D.C. has issued up-dated Travel Advisories for both Brazil and Colombia, which, together with Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname, are all reporting local transmission of the disease, a mosquito-borne virus for which there
is no cure.

While Chikungunya is rarely fatal, it can cause fever, headache and joint pain, and is especially dangerous to people who are considered high-risk, such as those with arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, and women in the late stages of pregnancy.

Chikungunya can cause long-term joint pain and other complications in anyone with an underlying medical condition. The only protection is prevention, and if you have plans to travel to any country where this disease is prevalent, your most important pre-travel plan should be a visit to one of our Travel Health Clinics in London for a free consultation and check-up to ensure that you are fit to travel to a high-risk area.