Daily Update 23 June 2014 from Destination Health: Travel Vaccination Clinic in London.
Reports from West Africa suggest that some health experts now believe that Ebola Virus outbreak which is affecting areas in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia is now out of control. More than 300 people have now died from this very serious and deadly disease which has a fatality rate of up to 90%, causing those infected to have multiple organ haemorrhaging and failure resulting in death. This is now the deadliest outbreak of this disease, surpassing the 280 deaths caused by the disease in 1976. The current outbreak is not currently showing any signs of slowing down. Challenges for health authorities in treating this disease include the lack of boarder controls in the region which allows people to cross regional and national boundaries unchecked. In addition, many people are sceptical of western and modern medical intervention preferring to rely on traditional healers to treat this disease. Many families have also removed infected people from isolation wards causing this disease to spread even further. Should you be travelling to this area of the world, it is vitally important that you avoid all contact with anyone suspected to have been infected or have come into contact with this deadly disease. Furthermore, keep up-to-date with travel advice and warnings from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
A woman has died in India in the Maharashta region after being bitten by a dog infected with the Rabies Virus. She is the 15th person to have died from a rabies bite in this area this year. Rabies is a very serious viral infection which is spread by infected mammals which has an almost 100% fatality rate if it is left untreated by the rabies immunoglobulin shortly after exposure. People that develop the rabies disease experience fever and breathlessness which develops further into a state of paranoia, fear of water, air and light. Death usually occurs around a week after developing the disease. A vaccination is available to help protect people from developing this disease, which is given as a course of three injections over a period of a number of weeks.
The Cholera Outbreak which started in South Sudan over a month ago has now spread to other regions since it started in the capital of Juba. There have now been more than 1,700 cases reported across the country. The outbreak began due to unsanitary conditions in refuge camps and crowded markets following people fleeing the fighting that has been occurring throughout the country. Health authorities have been encountering challenges in helping to prevent the spread of the disease due to a lack of healthcare facilities and equipment in the country as well as intermittent fighting which has necessitated some health workers to flee for safety. Cholera is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by unsanitary conditions such as open deification resulting in contaminating drinking water. It is spread to person to person via the faecal oral route. Travellers can reduce the risk of contracting this disease by getting vaccinated prior to travel as well as avoiding tap water, using only bottled water from a known source.
Authorities in Taiwan are reporting the highest level of imported Hepatitis A infections into the country since 2009 with 29 confirmed cases. It is believed that travellers became infected whilst travelling in areas throughout South East Asia. Hepatitis A is an acute infection of the liver which causes various complications including vomiting, yellowing of the skin and acute abdominal pain. Symptoms can last up to eight weeks and most people make a full recovery however the elderly and people with compromised immune systems may experience more severe symptoms. It occurs in areas that have poor sanitation and overcrowding and is spread from person to person via the faecal-oral route. Travellers to this region should practice high levels of personal hygiene and ensure that they are vaccinated against Hepatitis A to prevent contracting this illness during their travels.
Since the Chikungunya Virus Outbreak began in the Caribbean island of St. Martin in December last year, the virus has spread throughout the entire region and the Dominican Republic has now reported over 90,000 cases of the disease, which accounts for around half of the entire suspected cases that have been reported across the Caribbean. Chikungunya Fever is spread by daytime biting mosquitoes and the symptoms often come on very suddenly with people infected experiencing high fever and nausea followed by very debilitating muscle pain. There is currently no vaccination for this illness however travellers can reduce the risk of developing Chikungunya Fever by wearing DEET 50% insect repellent and covering areas of exposed skin, especially during the daytime when these mosquitoes bite.