Avian Flu x 2 Confirmed in South Korea – 21st September 2015

It’s that time of the week again. Here’s our regular exploration of the diseases coming to the fore around the world, new outbreaks and what’s being done about them. It’s our weekly travel health update.

Avian flu x 2 confirmed in South Korea

South Korea has confirmed it has two cases of bird flu, AKA Avian Influenza, and it’s the first time the disease has erupted in the country for three months. Its reappearance has led to the testing of a vast number of birds, according to the nation’s Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who say farmed ducks at Naju and Gangjin, 350 km and 400km south west of the capital Seoul, have tested positive for the disease.

The government has sent a team of quarantine experts to the sites, who have begun restricting the creatures’ movements in a bid to stop any further spread, also restricting the movements of people and vehicles. The restrictions will last 24 hours. At the same time almost 15,000 ducks have been slaughtered for the same reason.

Dramatic drop in new malaria cases worldwide

It looks like there’s been a real drop in the number of new Malaria Cases, and it’s a worldwide phenomenon. There are 37% fewer cases than 15 years ago, a hopeful sign that the various initiatives being taken to tackle the mosquitoes bearing the disease may be working.

It also looks like an increasing number of countries are on the verge of eliminating the disease. 13 nations reported no cases at all during 2014, with six more reporting fewer than ten cases. So far in 2015, 80% of reported cases were in sub-Saharan Africa, which was also home to 78% percent of this year’s malaria deaths.

UNICEF says new anti-malaria initiatives appear to have saved 6.2 million lives since the year 2000, the majority below the age of five. More than 1 billion insecticide-treated insect nets alone have been distributed since the millennium, a simple yet highly effective protective measure that really does save lives.

It’s great news but almost half of the world’s population is still at risk of catching the killer disease. On the other hand domestic investment into fighting the disease in at-risk nations has increased year by year. Experts recommend tripling worldwide funding to reduce the number of cases even more, and they say global funding to the tune of $8.7 billion will be required to meet targets by 2030.

Rabies alert in Morocco

A four year old boy has died of rabies in Morocco, a popular tourist destination for British holidaymakers. He died in a Casablanca hospital after being bitten on the face by a rabid dog two days before.

The incident took place in the tiny village of Tafraout in the Tiznit province of southern Morocco. The boy was playing with friends in the street when the dog bit, a stray animal that attacked without warning. The boy was taken to an emergency hospital in Agadir then transferred to hospital in Casablanca, where the deadly virus killed him.

It isn’t unusual to find rabid animals in the Moroccan countryside. Around 20 rabies cases of rabies are reported every year. But this one took hold extra-fast since bites to the face, being near the brain, allow the disease develop faster than normal.

Mass anti-polio vaccination rebellion in Pakistan

More than 25,000 people rebelled in Pakistan last week, refusing to vaccinate their children against Polio in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. The three day immunisation drive saw parents from 19 districts refusing to let their children – all under age 5 – be immunised with the anti-polio drops.

Over 0.2 million children in total didn’t get the drops because they weren’t at home when the drive took place, but a total of 4.2 million children were vaccinated in the massive door-to-door campaign.The country reports they’ve seen 32 reported cases of polio so far in 2015, with the last two cropping up in the Khyber area.

This is sad news since the vaccine prevents a terrible disease, and Pakistan is so close to eradicating it. The parents’ rebellion won’t help get rid of the disease – the fact that so many children haven’t been immunised poses a serious risk, in sharp contrast to Africa which has reported no new cases of the disease for an entire year.

Come back next week for the latest travel health news

Visit again next week for more breaking news about diseases that present a risk to travel health. In the meantime, have a safe journey!