Avian Influenza – H7N9 – 1st September 2015

As we begin 2015 reporting worldwide health alerts, and bringing to your attention, outbreaks and possible epidemics of life-threatening viruses, we find West Africa still reeling under the enormity of the Ebola virus outbreak.  Cases of the deadly virus were first detected in Guinea in early 2014, although at the time, health officials were not certain as to what they were dealing with.  By early March, hundreds of additional cases began to appear in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and by this time, it had become clear that the Ebola outbreak was already out of control.

All predictions in late 2014 pointed to a possible slow-down in the epidemic’s progress in West Africa, with optimism stemming from the declaration that Nigeria was now Ebola free.  Now, in January, latest indications are that if rates of hospitalization and vigilance are maintained at current levels, there is a distinct possibility that Liberia could be Ebola-free by June of this year.

Now, with the death toll in West Africa and other countries closing in on the staggering total of 9,000.  (This involves patients in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as “transit cases” in the U.S., Spain, and other European countries), the second of a series of clinical trials is ready to be launched in early February, involving a selection of health care workers and other infected patients in varying stages of the virus.

Our Health Alerts are Global since Ebola and other serious outbreaks we bring to your attention affect the global community within a very short time frame, and are transmitted more rapidly than ever through frequent air travel, and a combination of misinformation and poor transmission of information regarding the dangers of these viruses, as well as poor healthcare practices and a lack of adequate facilities in countries most heavily affected by the outbreaks.

Through our weekly up-dates we shall keep you apprised of the latest and most vital information on the progress of these most dangerous viruses, and threats to your health and safety while travelling.

Avian Influenza – H7N9

Reported in Shanghai, Shenzen, Guangdong in China and Hong Kong–  bringing the total just in Hong Kong this year to 12, with daily increases being reported in other parts of China, and in Taiwan.

Measles, Southern California and Mexico

An ever-growing outbreak of Measles has been reported at Two Disney Theme Parks, with other cases linked to the same outbreak showing up in Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Arizona in the USA, and parts of Mexico, and is highly contagious.  The only true weapon against contracting measles is vaccination, in infants, children, and adolescents, as well as adults who have never been vaccinated.  The measles vaccine is administered along with rubella and mumps vaccine and is totally safe.   This strain of the measles virus, B-3 has been identified as the same one that caused the huge outbreak in the Philippines in 2014.  By comparison, it is important to note that 644 cases of the same strain were reported in the U.S. in 2014.

Not only theme parks, but any highly-populated areas, are breeding grounds for the spread of viruses such as these, so it is essential that your children be protected well beforehand.

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, Saudi Arabia

Total cases of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are now reported by the Saudi Arabia Health Ministry at 835 total, with a fatality rate of 43% since June 2012.

Chikungunya Fever, Columbia, Costa Rica and Honduras

A here-to-fore unknown virus, mosquito-borne Chikungunya Fever has gained rapid and wide-spread notoriety throughout the Caribbean and Central America in a very short space of time.  While few people had heard of Chikungunya 13 months ago, or even managed to pronounce the tongue-twisting name by summer 2014, the numbers of people it has affected continue to defy all predictions.

In Columbia, locally-acquired cases have now topped 100,000 and stand today at 113,000, much higher than the figure quoted by PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation) on January 16.  Through Caribbean-rim countries, which mostly lie near or below 2,200 metres from sea level, the mosquitoes carrying the virus, aedes aegypti, and aedes albopictus find ideal breeding grounds.

Chikungunya Fever causes high fever, joint pain, muscle pain, and severe headache, and although it is rarely fatal, it can result in long-lasting and chronic joint pain as well as disability.

Countries most affected by the wave of Chikungunya fever since 2014 have been El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica, accounting for more than 170,000 cases just among these three countries since the virus was first discovered 13 months ago.

Chikungunya Fever, French Polynesia

As you make your winter escape plans, may we recommend that you choose your paradise with special care this year?  Current statistics on Chikungunya Fever indicate that there is a surge in new cases throughout Fiji and Tahiti.  Where just one month ago, cases totalled roughly 35,000, new cases now stand at close to 130,000 with new reports daily that the trend shows no down turn.

Should you travel to these regions this winter, take extra precautions by using regular and generous applications of insecticide, sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when walking.