MERS in Turkey and the Philippines – October 2014

WORLD HEALTH ALERT  22/10/14. MERS Turkey and Philippines, West Nile Virus US, Dengue Fever China and Taiwan and Ebola Update.

MERS, Turkey and Philippines

Both Turkey and the Philippines have reported suspected cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in people returning from HAJJ in Saudi Arabia.  This news comes just following a death in Turkey which has been linked to the disease.   In the meantime, on the other side of the world, Doctors in Mindanao, the Philippines are monitoring 4 suspected cases of MERS in pilgrims who have just returned from HAJJ. MERS is a highly-contagious respiratory illness which produces symptoms of nausea and fever, later mixed with respiratory distress, the source of which is suspected to be camels and camel products.

West Nile Virus, California, U.S.

More than 600 cases of West Nile Virus, more than half of which are attributed to Los Angeles County, are reported confirmed, with 20 fatalities from the virus so far.   West Nile is mosquito-borne disease, which can lead to encephalitis; inflammation of the brain.  The various symptoms of WNV are fever, headache, nausea, body aches and vomiting, occasionally mixed with a body rash and swelling of the lymph glands. The first time this virus was detected on U.S. soil was in New York in 1999, prior to which, it had only been diagnosed in Africa, Eastern Europe, and West Asia.

In some cases of West Nile, those infected might never develop symptoms at all.  Severe symptoms of the virus have been found to manifest in roughly 1 of 150 people infected, and can lead to short-term paralysis, muscle weakness and vision loss, as well as neurological complications.  If you plan to visit Los Angeles, Orange County, or neighbouring counties in California, please set aside enough time before your departure to book an appointment at one of our Travel Health Clinics in London for a free consultation.

Dengue Fever, China

Today’s reports from Guangdong, South China confirm a steady downward trend in the number of new daily cases.  While this is a positive trend, the total case count of Dengue Fever victims in this Province still tops 40,000.

Dengue Fever, Taiwan

Kaohsiung, Taiwan, major shipping port for the Island, is still experiencing a severe outbreak of Dengue Fever with over 6,000 cases, including  55 reports of the more serious Hemorrhagic Fever, which is fatal in most cases.  Despite regular spraying of pesticides, and removal of standing water reservoirs, the heat and humidity on the Island provide a natural breeding environment for the mosquitoes.

Ebola, Global Update

The World Health Organisation has today issued a report, which they refer to as a “roadmap”, gauging their response to the Ebola epidemic worldwide.  This “situation report” confirms a total of 9936 Cases, including suspected cases, in 5 affected countries.

As mentioned in this Health Alert earlier this week, Liberia has experienced the worst of the crisis and total cases stand at 4665, with a fatality rate of over 2700.  In Sierra Leone, nearly 1300 people have died, from a total case count of 3700.  And in Guinea, though the numbers are lower, the outlook is bleak, with close to 1,000 deaths, and the fever showing signs of spiking.

Ebola – Dallas, Texas

The Administrators of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where the first Ebola patient on U.S. soil died, have admitted fault in their treatment of the case, and in their original diagnosis of Mr. Duncan, who was originally told he had the flu,  and was sent home with antibiotics.  The two nurses who subsequently showed signs of the virus have been cleared and are not infected with the disease.

Ebola – Restrictions, Analysis, and Fear

The “fear factor” seems to be driving the actions of many countries during the Ebola crisis, and recent reports about flight restrictions, border closures, and emergency landings have thus far accomplished little.  Tests on suspected cases in the U.S., Spain, and Tunisia, as well as others carried out on passengers who might have flown on the same airplane with a suspected case have led nowhere.

Why?  Because unless you are standing directly in front of or touching a symptomatic Ebola patient who is sneezing, or bleeding, and you are not wearing protective gear, you are probably not at risk.