Cholera Outbreak in Ghana – October 2014

WORLD TRAVEL HEALTH ALERT 25/10/14. Cholera Outbreak Ghana, West Nile Virus in Florida and Texas, Elections in Ukraine, Ebola Update.

Cholera –  Ghana

As the world focuses on the Ebola crisis in West Africa, another outbreak threatens nearby Ghana.  An outbreak of Cholera has gripped the country’s capital city of Accra, since this past summer, with at least 7,000 recorded cases and 57 deaths reported thus far.

The Director of Public Health for Metropolitan Accra states that the outbreak can be directly traced to food sources, and in particular, the cooking of food in slum areas, as well as unsanitary conditions, overflowing gutters and open sewers.  As efforts are stepped up to clean out slum areas and enforce sanitation laws, the influx of people into Accra continues.  Reports are that the outbreak has also spread to other regions of the country, including Kumasi, west of the capital, and north eastern areas as well.

West Nile Virus – Florida, Texas

Florida has reported a fourth case of West Nile virus, and other counties have been advised that they should be on the alert.  The virus is, at the same time, working its way through Texas, with over 200 cases reported.

Some people who contract the virus may experience little or no symptoms, however in its severest form, West Nile virus can cause acute headache, fever, weakness and disorientation, and could eventually lead to inflammation of the brain.  Anyone who might have been bitten by a mosquito in the Gulf states of the U.S., and who is experiencing these symptoms should seek medical assistance without delay.

Parliamentary elections – Ukraine

Elections are scheduled to take place in the Ukraine on October 26th, and demonstrations may occur in the period surrounding these elections, with an attendant risk of violence. If you are visiting the Ukraine during this time, it is important to stay informed of local news, avoid demonstrations, and follow the advice of local authorities should any disturbance arise.

Ebola – Global Update

The first diagnosed Ebola patient reported in Mali, a 2-year old girl, has died, and it is now confirmed that she flew from Guinea while symptomatic.  Authorities are working to monitor at least 40 other people who could have come in contact with the deceased, however, at present, no others have shown signs of having contracted the virus.

Vaccine testing – W.H.O.

The assistant director-general for health systems of the World Health Organization has agreed to become “guinea pig” for testing of experimental vaccine developed for the treatment of Ebola.  These tests are being conducted only to determine whether the vaccine causes adverse side effects, and, more importantly, to see whether it is capable of producing antibodies against the virus.  The two leading candidate vaccines are produced by Glaxo-Smith-Kline, and NewLink Genetics, and are being tested by volunteers in the U.K., the U.S., and Mali.

The Ebola virus is now estimated to have killed over 5,000 people and the longer-term projection is that by December, new case counts could approach 10,000 per week, at the current rate.

Ebola- free – Texas

Nina Pham, the first nurse who was diagnosed with the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian, after treating Mr. Thomas Duncan, the first Ebola patient on U.S. soil, has left hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, completely free of the virus.  After weeks of advanced isolation and monitoring, she was well enough to accept an invitation to the White House to meet with President Obama.

False Alarms – Guangdong, China

5,437 people have been discharged from observation for Ebola in Guangdong province, China.  Apparently, more than 8,600 people from Ebola-ridden areas had entered the province in late August, when monitoring and testing procedures began.  So far, with no cases having tested positive, all candidates have been discharged. China has not reported any cases of Ebola.