Dengue and Malaria in Mumbai, India – October 2014

WORLD TRAVEL HEALTH ALERT  21/10/14, Protests Hong Kong, Dengue and Malaria India and Sri Lanka, Dengue Fever China, Ebola Update

Protests – Hong Kong

Following a day of talks between Hong Kong’s Federation of Students, and government representatives, indications are that both sides have low expectations about any meaningful change in the status quo.  While government officials promise and posture, this first meeting with 5 pro-democracy student representatives seems to have made little difference in the general atmosphere that has pervaded Hong Kong for the past three weeks.  Evidence of the demonstrations has mostly been cleared from the city’s busy thoroughfares, but there is a –wait and see- tension as to what might come next.

Dengue-Malaria – Mumbai, India

While the Dengue Fever outbreak accounts for 99% of fever cases in some Mumbai hospitals, physicians in Mumbai, India have reported seeing cases of co-infection involving patients who are simultaneously infected with both Dengue Fever and Malaria.  While the number of cases is low, and this is not to be considered an outbreak, the situation remains one that doctors have not seen before.

Stranger yet, is the fact that the two infections are transmitted by two different species of mosquitoes.  Dengue is carried by the Aedes Aegypti species; the mosquito infected with Malaria is the Anopheles. Patients suffering Dengue/Malaria co-infection, and those affected by the current outbreak of Typhoid in Mumbai presently account for one fourth of the hospital beds in the city.

Malaria Eliminated – Sri Lanka

Malaria cases have declined in Sri Lanka by 99.9 percent since 1999, when recorded cases numbered 265,000.  According to the Global Health Group, University of California, not one autochthonous case of malaria has been reported in the country since 2012.  Sri Lanka is the first country in Asia to attain this goal in decades.

Dengue- Guangdong, China

There are indications today that a substantial number, possibly up to 10,000 of Dengue Fever cases in Guangzhou, Guangdong in China have been released from hospital.  Health officials point out that this encouraging result is due to extreme efforts on the part of Government and Ministry of Health in education and prevention, as well as fogging. Slightly cooler temperatures have also contributed to a reduction in the mosquito population.

Ebola- Global Update

The Good –  Cuba Sends  Health Care Workers

The Government of Cuba has assigned an additional force of 91 health care professionals to join a team of 165 already working in West Africa.  Most of those being sent are veterans of other campaigns, some in Zimbabwe and Venezuela, which were not related to the Ebola virus. This new force of health care workers join another 4,000 or more from Cuba already at work in the region.  Says the Director of the Pedro Khouri Institute for Tropical Diseases in Havana,  Dr. Jorge Perez Avila,  “Why are Cubans going to Africa?  To Save Lives.” Former leader, Fidel Castro, has issued a statement in a Cuban newspaper, offering to co-operate with American personnel in this effort.

The Bad – Liberia continues to report new cases/new regions

Liberia has closed all of its borders except for major ports, to help combat the spread of the virus, instituted screening measures at all ports that remain open for both incoming and outgoing travellers, and maintained quarantine restrictions for all communities affected by the disease.  Of all West African countries, Liberia is the most heavily-hit by Ebola, and there are reports of cases in new areas of the country where there had been none only weeks ago.

The Ugly – Political manoeuvring

News items from every part of the world focus on the Ebola crisis, and the possibility of a Pandemic, while almost 5,000 have died of the virus.  Healthcare professionals from North America, the U.K., Cuba, and other countries have been assigned to help with the fight to control and contain Ebola, with inadequate supplies, impossible conditions, and a desperate lack of beds and basic essentials to treat those who are infected.  Amidst the horror and fear of this outbreak, emerges an almost incredible side to the story.  A CBS news bulletin today asks: Who will the Ebola virus hurt in the mid-term elections?  The wide-spread fear of Ebola taking hold in the U.S., and other countries, has driven politicians to use it as a weapon in their campaigns.