Influenza H1N1 hits India – 23rd November 2015

Travel health news

Every week we take a look at the latest travel health news, about new diseases raising their heads in various parts of the world and outbreaks it’s wise to know about before you leave. Here’s the information you need to stay safe and well abroad.

Swine Flu – Influenza H1N1 hits India

Several people have contracted suspected H1N1 swine flu in India, namely in Salem, Ariyalur, Trichy, Namakkal and Kancheepuram, all in the Tamil Nadu area. The H1N1 flu virus, which also circulates in pigs, caused a pandemic in 2009 and it’s now a familiar face on the seasonal flu scene.

The H1N1 virus has been circulating since the 2009 outbreak but 2014 saw the illness become ‘predominant’ in the USA for the first time.

Your best protection? Ask one of our travel nurse for advice. They may suggest getting the flu jab if you haven’t had this year’s already. The symptoms are very like ordinary flu and, contrary to the rumours, you can’t catch it from eating pork that hasn’t been properly cooked.

STDs rising ‘at an alarming rate’ in the USA

America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced some disturbing news. Apparently the latest data reveals a dramatic hike in the incidence of sexually trransmitted diseases in the USA, with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis all on the increase for the first time since 2006.

It looks like the surge is down to younger people being careless, forgetting about safe sex and not using protection.Four million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2014, 2.8% more than 2013 and the “the highest number of annual cases of any condition ever reported to CDC.”

Rising calls for action on antibiotic resistance

There are more and more calls arising for action to prevent antibiotic resistance. In the UK researchers have issued warnings that once the gene for antibiotic resistance spreads, a wide variety of bacteria could become resistant to the most powerful antibiotics.

Research in China on Ecoli comes to the same conclusion. And an EU report says the antimicrobial resistance situation in Europe “displays large variations depending on the bacterium, antimicrobial group and geographical region.”

Beware of blue green algae in Australia

Tests confirm large amounts of dangerous blue green algae at Lake Bullen Merri in south west Victoria, Australia. If your heading to Australia on holiday, the local authorities recommend avoiding all contact with the water, including swimming, fishing and eating any fish you catch there. So far the nearby Deep Lake, Lake Tooliorook and Lake Purrumbete are safe. Common symptoms of blue green algae exposure include skin irritation, nausea and vomiting.

Whooping cough vaccination alert for the UK

Some parents are still wary of childhood vaccinations in general, despite the fact that concerns about MMR and autism were disproved completely some time ago. As a result we’re seeing a resurgence of whooping cough, with 126 confirmed cases of the virus across Sussex so far in 2015 and 134 in the whole of 2014.

Public Health England says levels of the disease remain higher than expected right across the country, putting children at risk of the acute respiratory infection. It usually starts with symptoms like a mild cold but develops over the next week or two into severe coughing fits, and the cough can last as long as three months. And it can be fatal, particularly in young babies who haven’t had the first dose of the vaccine, as recommended, at two months old.

Mary Ramsay, PHE head of immunisation, said: “It is important that pregnant women visit their GP surgery or midwife to get vaccinated, ideally between weeks 28 and 32 of their pregnancy.”

Avoid Chipotle Mexican Grill food outlets in the USA

More than 40 people have fallen ill after eating food infected by e.Coli infected food at Chipotle Mexican Grill outlets in six different states. If you’re travelling to the USA, it’s probably best to avoid the chain’s restaurants until the source of the outbreak has been identified and dealt with.

Dengue risk still worryingly high in Taiwan

Taiwan had seen 36,000 confirmed cases of dengue fever since the beginning of May this year, with a dramatic 455 new cases recorded overnight, 159 more than the same time a week ago. Kaohsiung, the southern port city, sits at the centre of the outbreak.

The disease has shown signs of dropping off in nearby Tainan, and the country’s Environmental Protection Administration is busy implementing the fifth phase in a determined vector site cleaning program across 37 different districts of the city in an effort to contain its spread.

More travel health updates next week…

Come back next week for our weekly travel health update, full of breaking news about new risks to avoid.