Daily Update 20 June 2014 from Destination Health: Travel Vaccination Clinic in London.
The Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) continues to be a major health issue in many parts of the Middle East including Saudi Arabia where the outbreak first began a number of months ago. In the past 3 days there have been two additional confirmed cases and one new death from the disease. There are however signs that the disease may be slowing its spread with seven people reported to have recovered from the disease in the same period. Authorities have observed that patients that have been recovering from the disease have not presented with pre-existing conditions whereas those that have resulted in fatality have had a history of other conditions. MERS is a severe respiratory disease that is spread from person to person when infected people cough or sneeze. Travellers to the area are advised to avoid contact with people known to have the disease and to practice good levels of personal hygiene. In Saudi Arabia, there have so far been 290 deaths from this disease since the beginning of the outbreak.
Over the past few days there have been four new cases of Ebola reported in the West African country of Liberia following the recent outbreak that began in Guinea. There have so far been 16 deaths in Liberia due to the Ebola virus which has a fatality rate of around 60%. Efforts to control the spread of the disease is challenging in this part of West Africa as boarders are porous and public health initiatives aimed at educating the local population struggles to counter misconceptions about the disease. Travellers to this region are advised to keep up-to-date with travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
A person has died from Rabies after being bitten by a dog in the Philippines, bringing the total number of deaths this year from rabies to four. A mass vaccination programme has begun to immunise over 100,000 dogs to help stop the spread of this disease which has been declared as an outbreak in three regions across the country. Travellers to this region need to be vigilant and avoid contact with all animals that may carry this disease including dogs and bats. Travellers should also consider being vaccinated against the Rabies virus which has a 100% fatality rate. Speak to one of our travel nurses in one of our Travel Clinics in London for further advice.
Efforts to help control and stop the spread of the Ebola Virus which is affecting a number of countries in West Africa is a challenge for health authorities and aid workers who are struggling to convince locals of the benefits of Western Medicine. Many people in the region prefer to rely on traditional healers. There have so far been 22 deaths in Sierra Leone due to the Ebola virus and around 100 other people infected with the disease. The World Health Organisation has said that the virus has so far claimed the lives of 337 people across the region and is continuing to spread. Researchers are currently working on a vaccination against this disease but there is currently no immunisation available.
Chikungunya Fever continues to be a significant health issue for many countries across the Caribbean. The Pan American Health Organisation suspects that there has so far this year been well over 160,000 cases of the disease across the region. There is currently no vaccination for Chikungunya Fever which causes severe joint and muscle pain and high fever for those infected with the disease. Travellers are advised to try and avoid being bitten by the daytime biting mosquitoes that spread this disease. Use DEET 50% insect repellent and cover areas of exposed skin to reduce the risk of being bitten.