Daily Update 18 June 2014 from Destination Health: Travel Vaccination Clinic in London.
The current Dengue Fever outbreak continues to spread throughout the Caribbean and some parts of Central and South America. There have so far this year been just over 3,000 cases of Dengue Fever reported in Costa Rica. Although this is still a large number, it is significantly down from last year by about 70%. Although this dip in numbers, travellers should take precautions to avoid being bitten by the mosquitos that carry this disease, which is spread mainly during the daytime. Wear insect repellant and cover up areas of exposed skin.
There has been an outbreak of Measles in the city of Hamilton in New Zealand with now over 60 cases being reported, including five people hospitalised. Measles is a very serious disease which can cause ear infections, pneumonia and bronchitis and usually results in hospitalisation in one in ten people that contract the disease. It is highly contagious and is spread from person to person through tiny droplets in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes. Travellers should ensure that they are up-to-date with all of their routine vaccinations which includes the Measles vaccination.
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia
The Ebola Outbreak in West Africa continues to be a major health issue with several people reported to have died from the disease over the past few days. Seven people have died in the capital of Liberia, Monrovia – first deaths in that city since the outbreak began. Heath authorities across the region are working on containing the disease however it due to the porus nature of the boarders it is difficult to control the spread of people infected with the disease. It is also compounded by relatives taking sick people out of isolation wards, further spreading the disease.
Health authorities in Kenya have warned on the alarming rise of Hepatitis B infections being reported across the country. Around 10% of pregnant women have been found to be carrying the disease as well as a high proportion of blood donors. Hepatitis B, which is spread to person to person via bodily fluids affects around 2 billion people world wide and is estimated to be between 50 and 100 time more infectious than HIV. High risk activities include unprotected sexual intercourse and sharing needles.
Authorities in the Selangor region of Malaysia are reporting alarming rates of Dengue Fever this year with over 1,000 cases so far being reported since January compared to around 250 for the same time last year. Dengue Fever causes severe fever and muscle and joint pain which can cause those infected to be incapacitated for a number of days. Some people can go on to develop a more severe form of the disease Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever which can be fatal – there have so far been 31 deaths this year due to this more severe form of the disease. Travellers to this region are advised to practice mosquito avoidance measures such as using DEET 50% insect repellant and covering exposed areas of skin. Unlike the malarial mosquitos, the mosquitos that spread this disease are prevalent mainly throughout the daytime.
It has been reported that a 52 year old man from Taichung in central Taiwan has contracted Japanese Encephalitis, the first time this disease has been recorded in Taiwan this year. The man is now in hospital and being treated for the disease. Japanese Encephalitis is spread by mosquitos and travellers should consider vaccination if they are travelling to an area of high risk. It is also advisable to practice mosquito avoidance measures such as using DEET 50% insect repellant and covering exposed skin.
There are reports that a doctor from the United States has been infected by Chikungunya Fever whilst on a volunteer trip to Haiti recently. Chikunguna Fever causes high fevers and severe joint and muscle pain. There is no vaccination for this disease, travellers are advised to try and avoid being bitten by mosquitos that carry this disease. DEET 50% insect repellant and covering exposed skin can help reduce the risk of being bitten. Since the outbreak began a few months ago, there have been over 135,000 cases reported across the Caribbean.