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Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 05 August

Wanderlust travel health update: Sri Lanka, Bahamas, Bolivia and more

Weekly round-up of the world's travel health news from Nomad including dengue fever in Sri Lanka and the Bahamas, rabies in Bolivia and more

This health advice is provided by Nomad, who offer Wanderlust visitors 10% off equipment online and in store including 10% off vaccinations. See the Nomad website for more details.

Sri Lanka – Dengue Fever

Sri Lanka recorded the highest number of dengue cases of the year last month (July 2011), latest statistics released by the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry showed. In July 2011, 3,697 cases of dengue have been reported from all over the country adding up to 13,975 cases so far this year. A total of 112 patients have died of the mosquito-borne disease. Most of the dengue patients and deaths have been reported from the Western Province. Colombo district has seen the most cases with 5,454 patients and 51 deaths.

Cambodia – Dengue Fever

Cambodia reported 4,626 cases of dengue fever which had claimed 23 Cambodian children's lives so far this year.

Bahamas – Dengue Fever

The number of confirmed cases of dengue fever has more than doubled in the past two days, according to health minister, Dr Hubert Minnis, who confirmed that there were 195 cases.

Advice to travellers

Dengue fever is spread by daytime biting mosquitoes normally from sunrise to sunset and is more common in urban areas. It causes a high ‘breakbone’ fever (pain all over), accompanied with headache and rash. It lasts a few days and will resolve itself. If caught a second time it has a 2% chance of developing into Dengue Haemorrhagic fever which can be fatal. There is currently no vaccine available and therefore insect bite avoidance is essential.

Myanmar/Burma – Malaria

Malaria has taken a turn for the worse in tribal dominated remote hamlets in North Tripura with five deaths reported. The death toll in diarrhoea, viral fever and malaria has reached 129 so far this year in the area. The entire Dhalai district had already been identified as malaria prone and become drug resistant. Spraying of DDT, use of instant diagnostic kits in highly malaria prone areas besides, distribution of 115,000 medicated nets and fogging machines were on.

Advice to travellers

Travellers to the affected area should seek expert advice before they travel regarding the most suitable form of malaria tablets for their trip and medical history. They should ensure that they take the tablets as advised or they will not work as well. Malaria tablets are
approximately 90-95% when taken properly, so bite avoidance should also be adhered to. Always wear 20-50% DEET on all exposed skin, sleep under a mosquito net and wear long clothing to protect you. Malaria carrying mosquitoes generally bite between sunset and sunrise.

UK – Measles

Parents are being urged to get their children vaccinated as the number of people infected by measles in Sussex continues to rise. There have been 73 confirmed cases of the virus so far this year, more than ten times the number for the whole of 2010. Health bosses believe many people have caught the virus while visiting countries which are experiencing a mass outbreak of the disease. The Health Protection Agency is warning families planning to visit France, Bulgaria and Italy during the summer holidays to make sure everyone is protected.

Congo – Measles

A measles epidemic has killed 1,145 children in the Democratic Republic of Congo since January 2011, the UN's Humanitarian Affairs mission in Kinshasa said. The epidemic "has already affected 115,600 children and killed 1,145" between January and June 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.

New Zealand – Measles

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service can confirm 76 confirmed cases of measles in the Auckland region, three contacts are in quarantine.

Advice to travellers

Measles is easily spread through coughing and sneezing. Ensure you have been fully vaccinated prior to visiting affected areas. If no history of vaccination or if you are unsure, in adults, two vaccines given ideally one month apart will provide cover.

Cambodia – Avian ‘flu

A four-year-old Cambodian girl has become the seventh person to die from bird flu in the country this year. Tests confirmed she had contracted H5N1 avian influenza.

Advice to travellers

Avian Flu is spread through close contact with infected poultry. Avoid contact with poultry and wild birds (e.g. markets, farms). Wash your hands frequently and well, consider carrying a hand sanitiser gel with you, avoid eating undercooked or uncooked poultry or eggs.

Pakistan – Rabies

The incidence of rabies is on the rise in Pakistan as at least 5,000 deaths are being recorded annually, mostly caused by dog bite. Whereas rabies cases being reported from India are much higher and one person is falling prey to this zoonotic viral disease every 20
minutes.

Bolivia – Rabies

The country is facing a rabies epidemic with an increase in cases in three departments and the death of four people due to the infection. According to the records of the National Zoonoses Program, the Cochabamba department has 40 canine rabies cases.

Advice to travellers

Travellers are advised to consider pre travel Rabies vaccine, this consists of a course of three vaccines administered over the course of 21 to 28 days; this removes the need for Rabies Immunoglobulin in the event of an injury. Animal contact should be avoided wherever possible and in the event of contact with animal saliva any wound should be
thoroughly washed with soap and water and Iodine or Alcohol applied. Medical advice should be sought as soon as possible even if vaccinated with a full course of Rabies vaccine.

Bangladesh – Flooding

Heavy flooding in southeastern Bangladesh has forced more than 20,000 people from their homes in Cox's Bazar and Teknaf districts, say local authorities. The homes of more than 20,000 people have been completely destroyed by the floodwaters, with another 84,000 homes partially damaged. So far at least seven people have died in the floods.

Martinique – Hurricane

A cyclone alert has been issued for Martinique from 2 August 2011. Tropical storm Emily is expected to cause severe rains, storms and floods. Remain vigilant and follow any evacuation orders from local authorities.

More like this

For more travel health stories see our health news pages

For travel health articles check our Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth's features here

More information on Dengue Fever can be found here: Dealing with Dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases

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