Leptospirosis in Malaysia – October 12th 2014

WORLD HEALTH ALERT –  OCT 12, 2014. Ebola Update,  Leptospirosis in Malaysia and Dengue Fever in Central and South America.

Ebola – Dallas, Texas

The first case of Ebola transmitted within the U.S. is reported at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital, where Thomas Duncan had been treated up until his death.  The latest victim is a nurse who was helping Mr. Duncan and had contact with the man during the course of his treatment.  She is currently in isolation, and is being closely monitored.  This second case officially adds the United States to the list of 7 countries that have been affected by the Ebola crisis.

Ebola – Monrovia, Liberia

As U.S. troops arrive in Liberia, to help set up emergency hospitals and begin training healthcare workers in the fight against Ebola, some healthcare workers, specifically, nurses and physicians’ assistants, are talking about possible strike action as early as Monday.  The dispute is centered around demands for an increase in hazard pay.

There is, at the same time, a little encouragement from a report that the Ebola epidemic in Liberia might be showing some small signs of slowing down, and any further details will be reported in our next alerts. The virus has, so far, killed roughly 2,300 people in Liberia, and more than 4,000 total since early March, throughout 7 affected countries.

Leptospirosis – Malaysia

A waterfall park, situated halfway between Seremban and Kuala Kelawang in Malaysia has been closed by Health Authorities after 4 children fell ill with leptospirosis after swimming there.  The children are being treated at a local hospital and are in stable condition.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease, normally carried by rats, however other animals, such as cows, pigs and horses, can also be carriers of the disease, which can infect both humans and animals. A person can become infected by direct, or indirect contact with the urine of these animals, or with urine-infected water.  Contaminated or water can also be sources of infection.  In high-traffic areas, such as a water sports centre, or water park, for example, food waste that is not properly discarded can easily attract rodents and increase the likelihood of leptospirosis infection.  Symptoms of the infection appear up to 4 weeks after exposure, and are similar to flu, but can ultimately develop into more severe symptoms ranging from fever and chills to muscle aches and vomiting.  The disease is treatable with antibiotics.

Dengue Fever – Central and South America

The Dengue Fever epidemic through the Western Hemisphere has now reached epic proportions, with more than 1 million cases confirmed throughout the Caribbean, South America and Central America.  Of these cases, Brazil accounts for 53 percent, compared with 111.2 thousand in Columbia and 82.7 thousand in Mexico, ranked 2nd and 3rd in number of cases in the Western Hemisphere.

Just as important is the fact that most reporting countries have found all 4 or at least 3 of the various types of Dengue, called serotypes. What this means is that research into identifying an effective vaccine against Dengue is at least 3 times as difficult, and that each type, whether DE1, 2, 3, or 4, has unique characteristics which can make it harder to diagnose and treat.  Further, although it is recognized that recovery from one type of Dengue infection results in life-long immunity from that one type, it, in no way, protects the person from immunity from any of the remaining 3 types of Dengue.

If a Caribbean, or Latin-American holiday is in your travel plans, there are steps you will want to take well before departure and all throughout your visit.   First, a visit to our Travel Health Clinic for a Free consultation and a review of vaccinations you will require is recommended, and, during your journey, the frequent and liberal use of insecticide throughout the day and early evening is essential.  The only way to prevent Dengue is thorough protection from mosquito bites.