Chikungunya in the U.S – October 2014

WORLD HEALTH ALERT – 20/10/14. Chikungunya in U.S, Plague China, Measles Australia, Dengue Fever Brazil, Ebola Update.

Chikungunya – U.S.

The mosquito-borne virus Chikungunya Fever that has had a stranglehold on the Caribbean and Latin America has become a concern in parts of the U.S., especially in gulf states such as Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. The illness, first detected in 1952 in Tanzania, only accounted for a minimal number of imported cases in the continental U.S., until after July of this year.  Since that time, and in ever-increasing numbers, Chikungunya cases originating on U.S. soil have shown up in Florida.

Plague – Gansu Province, China

One death from Plague in Gansu Province, China, was reported earlier this month, and during this past week the death toll has risen to three in the same region.  Gansu Province is in Northwest China, and all cases were from rural areas, where infected animals such as rodents are normally present.  This form of Plague, Y Pestis, or Pneumonic Plague is the most serious of the three types of Plague, but is generally treatable with antibiotics, given an early diagnosis.

Measles – Australia

3 passengers on a Jetstar flight which landed in Brisbane Australia Oct. 16th have tested positive for Measles, and Queensland health is warning all passengers on flight JQ46, which departed Denpasar  on the evening of Oct. 15th to watch for symptoms of the virus. Symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, tiredness, cough and sore, red eyes, could begin at any time from October 23 until November 3.  The initial symptoms are normally followed by a blotchy, red rash.

For those who are not immune, either those born after 1966, or those who have not been immunised with two doses of Measles vaccine, Measles is highly-contagious, and can be passed through coughing or sneezing.  People born prior to 1966 will most likely be immune from having had the disease during childhood.

Should you be experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned here, please contact one of our Travel Health Clinics in London as soon as possible for a check-up, and vaccination if needed.

Dengue Suppression –  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazilian Researchers in Rio in Brazil have released into the environment thousands of mosquitoes infected with the bacteria Wolbachia, which can suppress Dengue Fever.  This initiative is being introduced in the hopes that these mosquitoes will breed, multiply, and help reduce the spread of Dengue Fever by becoming the majority.  The Wolbachia bacteria is an intracellular bacteria that cannot be transmitted to humans.

This bacterium is found in 60 percent of insects and actually acts like a vaccine to the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which carries Dengue, and has an effect on reproduction whereby eventually, if male and female Aedes mosquitoes are both carrying Wolbachia, the eggs of the female will not produce larvae.  Prior tests carried out in Australia have shown that the process can take roughly 10 weeks.

Ebola – Global Up-dates

Nigeria today was declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation, following more than 20 days since any new cases have been recorded. The containment of the outbreak was carried out with professionalism, efficiency, and quick response.  The total case count in Nigeria was 19, with 7 deaths.

This follows just days behind the confirmation that Senegal is also clear of the virus, while the case count continues to climb in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.  At present, the total number of Ebola cases in West Africa has surpassed 9,000, with fatalities in all three countries rising past 4,500.

As cases are recorded in new regions of Liberia almost daily, and Guinea faces a spiking trend in new Ebola victims, there is the hope that an experimental vaccine sent to Geneva from Canada today will eventually bring positive results.  Meanwhile, 43 of 48 suspected cases that were being monitored in Dallas after the death of Mr. Thomas Duncan, have all tested negative for the virus.