Lassa Fever – Nigeria – October 2014

WORLD TRAVEL HEALTH ALERT –  29/10/14, Lassa Fever Nigeria, Marburg Virus in Uganda, Dengue Fever Taiwan, Ebola Global Update.

Lassa Fever – Nigeria

Not more than one week following confirmation that the Nigeria is Ebola-free, comes a report of an outbreak of Lassa Fever in Oyo State.  The Lassa virus is also a hemorrhagic virus which is endemic to West Africa, and is transmitted by a multimammate rat.

The symptoms of Lassa Fever range from mild or almost non-existant in roughly 80% of people who become infected.  However, the 20% or so who develop severe symptoms after 1-3 weeks, can experience fever, cough, back pain, abdominal pain, bleeding, vomiting, conjunctivitis, facial swelling, and in extreme cases, there can be a risk of neurological complications, such as hearing loss, tremors and encephalitis.  The Nigerian authorities express confidence that they have the wherewithal to battle and control the virus.

Marburg Virus – Uganda

Uganda’s Director General of Health Services,  Jane Aceng, has issued a statement confirming that all suspected cases of Marburg in Uganda, and those who had been in contact with the patient who died on September 30, have tested negative for the virus and have been released.  It remains now for a 42-day period to pass without any new cases being reported for the World Health Organisation to officially declare the country Marburg-free.

Dengue Fever – Taiwan

In one of the worst outbreaks of Dengue Fever on the island of Taiwan, cases continue to mount, as the disease cuts a wide swathe across the country.  In the past week alone, 1525 new confirmed cases have been reported.  What is even more startling is the fact that these new cases bring the count to 4,200 just in the past month. Taiwan is now in the peak of its Dengue season, with the southern port city of Kaohsiung being the worst-hit of all points in the country.

Taiwan is just one among many countries in Southeast Asia who have had extreme outbreaks of Dengue this season, and should you have occasion to visit any Southeast Asian countries we have featured in our recent blogs, such as Southern China, especially Guangdong Province in China or the Philippines,  India, and Malaysia, please make sure you are armed with all the information you require about protecting yourself from mosquito bites.  A visit to one of our conveniently-located Travel Health Clinics in London well in advance of your departure for any of these destinations should be at the top of your pre-travel agenda.

During your visit, and free consultation, we shall be pleased to answer any questions you have regarding travel to Southeast Asia, and staying safe from Dengue, Malaria, and other infections that are a risk in these regions.

Ebola – Global Update

Mali’s first case of Ebola, involving a 2-year-old child who died, has now evolved.  Last week, 43 people who had contact with the girl were being isolated and monitored, and this number has grown to 82. As new information comes to light regarding the travels of the child and her grandmother on public transit, more contacts have been tested.  Thus far, however, not one of these people has tested positive.

Ebola response – U.S.

As Western countries continue to over-react to the Ebola outbreak, an announcement came today from the Pentagon that all military personnel returning from relief efforts in West African countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, will be subject to a 21-day monitoring protocol.  The term “controlled monitoring” is used frequently, however, if you read between the lines, you might find the word “quarantine”.

Ebola fear of the unknown

Perhaps, during this time where confusion and panic seem to take control of rational decisions, it might be a good idea to keep a cool head, and think again on how the Ebola virus is spread from one person to another:

– It is not airborne- you cannot catch it from a sneeze, or from someone sitting next to you on a plane.

– The virus can only be transmitted if you are in contact with the bodily fluids (blood, mucus, semen, and possibly urine) of a symptomatic Ebola sufferer, and, you have an open cut or wound which can allow the fluids to enter your system.

– Normally, a person suffering the symptoms of Ebola would not be well enough to travel.

– So far, every nurse who was quarantined in Texas, after treating Thomas Duncan, and others being monitored in the U.S., have all tested negative for the virus.