World’s 1st Malaria Vaccine Expected to get WHO Approval – 26th October 2015

Here’s our weekly global travel health update, designed to help you stay informed about the latest risks to traveller health and well-being around the world.

World’s 1st Malaria vaccine expected to get WHO approval

According to a report in this week’s New Scientist magazine, the World Health Organisation is expected to approve the first ever malaria vaccine for general use. Malaria kills 500,000 under 5 year-olds in Africa every year and early trials of the vaccine revealed children over 5 who have 3 doses plus a booster had 36% fewer cases of malaria in the following four years. Plus, malaria cases fell 26% in babies who were given the same vaccinations.

The trial covered seven African nations and also included basic safety measures like bed nets, faster diagnosis and quicker treatment. If the vaccine is approved, African countries will have to put strict protocols in place, since children who don’t get the booster might be at greater risk of severe malaria than those who don’t get any form of vaccination at all. The WHO’s decision is due to be made at a meeting in Geneva this week.

Yellow Fever carrier mosquito found in California

The Asian tiger mosquito has invaded the USA, the second kind of potentially dangerous mosquito to be found in the San Bernardino area of California during recent weeks. The insect is native to tropical and subtropical Southeast Asia, but was found in the city of Upland on 15th October.

It’s the second announcement of its kind, following on from the recent discovery of the yellow fever mosquito in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties. More yellow fever mosquitoes were found last week in Colton city and a number of Asian tiger mosquitoes were also found in traps. Both types of insect can carry dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya, and the Asian tiger mosquito often carries West Nile virus, too.

Polio crisis in Malaysia

The Health Ministry in Malaysia is talking with vaccine suppliers as the crisis in the global supply of vaccine for polio worsens, with only one supplier ready to meet global demand. The country’s National Immunisation Programme has been affected, suffering a decline in government stockpiles. Four cases of typhoid fever have also been identified in Malaysia recently, resulting in 142 food outlets being closed down.

At the same time outbreaks of polio are feared in war-torn Sudan. And on the bright side, Pakistan has announced an 85% reduction in polio cases this year thanks to an all-out effort to ensure every child receives the vaccine.

Salmonella outbreak continues in Alberta, Canada

The ongoing outbreak of Salmonella continues in Alberta, Canada, with six new cases this week.

Annual influenza hits Maine, USA

If you’re taking a break in Maine, bear in mind the annual round of flu is on the march. The state’s first influenza A case was detected a week ago, in an adult who hadn’t been vaccinated but didn’t become ill enough to be hospitalised.

Those at high risk have been advised to do ‘everything they can’ to avoid catching flu. This includes children aged less than five, grown-ups aged over 65, pregnant women, those with underlying medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and weakened immune systems, plus people who are morbidly obese.

Whether or not you’re visiting Maine, it’s flu season and if you’re in an at-risk group it’s wise to get your annual flu jab.

We’ll be back next week with more breaking news about travel health in countries you might be visiting. Come back regularly to stay up to date.