Daily Travel Health Update, October 2nd 2014

Ebola – Global Funding – Australia,  U.S.

Australia announced today that it will increase its contribution towards research and aid for Ebola victims to $16 million. This comes on the wake of an announcement by Bill Gates that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation will fund the fight against Ebola to the tune of $50 million.  These monies will go towards increasing and improving treatment facilities, supplying hospitals, and placing much needed healthcare teams where they are most needed.  Countries in West Africa are, at present, much in need of more medical professionals, beds, and medication. In the meantime, there are indications from major airlines that fear of the disease has caused a decline in international air travel.

If you are planning to travel to any country or region affected by the Ebola virus, and in particular, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and DMR Congo, there are precautions you must take to protect yourself from contracting this virus.  Most of these involve basic hygiene, such as regular and thorough hand-washing, wiping off taps and other fixtures before and after using public facilities, and covering any wounds, open cuts, etc. prior to visiting any health care unit.

If possible, avoid contact with any patient suffering from Ebola symptoms.  If this is not possible, and you must be in close contact with a symptomatic patient, wear protective covering, including a face mask, and gloves.  Bear in mind that Ebola is passed through contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, and it is vital that you do not handle any sharp objects which could expose you to the virus.  For further information, please contact one of our travel nurses at either of our clinics in London.

Solomon Islands –  Measles Outbreak

A serious outbreak of Measles in the Solomon Islands has escalated to more than 2,300 reported cases, with an alarming surge of 829 new cases in the past week.  The outbreak has moved at a rapid pace since it was first identified in July of this year.   Measles affects infants and adults more than people of other ages, and can leave long-lasting effects, depending upon the severity of the attack.   If you have had Measles, you are immune and needn’t worry.  Otherwise, protecting yourself involves a simple vaccination at least 6-8 weeks before travel to any country experiencing an outbreak of measles, mumps or rubella.

Zika Virus – Tahiti

There have been more than 8,500 suspected cases of the mosquito-borne Zika – ZIKV virus.  The virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito, the same species which carries the Dengue virus, and is related to Yellow Fever, West Nile, and Japanese Encephalitis.  Symptoms can run from mild to severe, but the fever generally has a shorter life than Dengue.  As with Dengue, there is no cure or vaccine, and the only solution is prevention.  This mosquito-borne virus is currently spreading throughout French Polynesia, and especially Tahiti, and Bora-Bora.

Demonstrations in Hong Kong

Despite warnings from China’s Central Government prior to the National Day in Hong Kong, protestors in Hong Kong remain steadfast.  The confrontations have reached a difficult impasse and tensions increase from day to day as neither side appears ready to back down or negotiate.  Protestors yesterday increased in numbers due to the National Holiday, causing disruptions in traffic flow, and the normal course of business on Hong Kong Island.  Hong Kong citizens demand more autonomy and the right to choose their own government, and appear adamant, while Beijing stands firm. Should you be travelling to Hong Kong, it is recommended that you check newspapers and social media on a regular basis to keep you updated with any developments in this tenuous situation.