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Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 06 July

Wanderlust travel health update: Cambodia, New Zealand, Hong Kong

Weekly round-up of the world's travel health news from Nomad including dengue fever in Cambodia, measles in New Zealand and scarlet fever in Hong Kong

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.

Cambodia – Dengue Fever

Cambodia has reported that as many as 1,793 severe cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever have been treated in hospital, and 11 of them have died since early 2011.

In Siem Reap Province 547 of them were hospitalised and 1,247 in Phnom Penh.

Saudi Arabia – Dengue Fever

The number of dengue fever cases in Jeddah requiring hospital attention has risen to around 130 a week. However, the number of instances involving only minor symptoms that remain unreported are suspected to be much higher. According to Al-Yawm, an Arabic daily newspaper, many of the 130 weekly cases have been found in more affluent districts of the city, suggesting that the mosquito-borne virus is spreading from its usual areas of proliferation.

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 a 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.

France – Measles

The number of reported measles cases has been steadily increasing since October 2010, creating a third epidemic wave of increased amplitude, according to the latest figures released by L'Institut de Veille Sanitaire (INVS). An epidemic peak was observed in March 2011 (with about 3,600 cases).

In total, nearly 20,000 cases of measles have been recorded in France since 1 January 2008, the date judged to mark the beginning of the epidemic.

Tanzania – Measles

A measles outbreak has left 20 children dead in Ngorongoro district in the last ten weeks, the district's medical officer, Dr Kennedy Israel, has said. The highly contagious disease, also known as 'rubeola', was first reported in the Kakesio Village in late April 2011. He said that, from then onwards, the disease has been spreading and the 20 children who have lost their lives were among the 650 infections recorded in the area.

New Zealand – Measles

Auckland's measles epidemic is worsening, with health officials saying new cases coming from overseas are adding to the woes. The latest outbreak is linked to a Thai Airways flight, which landed in Auckland on 19 June 2011 with a passenger in the early stages of measles and capable of infecting others. It has led to warnings to anyone on the plane to have check-ups. This case brings the total number with measles confirmed to 39, the largest outbreak the region has seen this year.

UK – Measles

Confirmed cases of measles in the West Midlands have nearly doubled this year. Laboratory experts have identified 24 cases of the deadly disease in the region since 1 January 2011, compared with 13 during the same period last year. Confirmed cases of measles rose nationally from 374 during the first half of last year (2010) to 496 cases this year. School trips and family holidays could spread the infectious illness even faster over the summer if children are not vaccinated.

Advice to travellers

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

Congo – Chikunguya

Between 1-23 June 2011, there were 7,014 cases in Brazzaville and 460 in Pool, but no deaths, according to the WHO.

Advice to travellers

Chikungunya is spread by daytime biting mosquitoes and is more common in urban areas. There is no vaccine available and therefore insect bite avoidance is essential.

Hong Kong – Scarlet Fever

The Health Secretary reports that between 10-20 new cases of scarlet fever are being identified daily at present. The Health Secretary visited children's nurseries in central Hong Kong to see what preventive measures are being taken to prevent further spread of infection. It is predicted that the outbreak will continue until around September 2011.

Russia – Tick B Encephalitis

Official figures report that as of 17 June 2011, 16,439 individuals in the Novosibirsk region of Russia sustained tick bites, which compares with 11,547 reported tick bites for the same time period of 2010. A total of 379 suspected cases of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) have been recorded and of those 49 have been laboratory confirmed as TBE.

Advice to travellers

Tick-borne encephalitis is transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected tick. Less commonly, the disease is spread by the ingestion of unpasteurised milk from infected animals especially goats. Travellers to rural tick-infested areas who plan to camp or walk during the tick season should consider vaccination.

This consists of two injections ideally one month apart with a booster 5-12 months later. Travellers should treat their clothing with premethrin which will kill ticks on contact and should always check for embedded ticks and remove them immediately.

Germany – E-coli

As of 30 June 2011, a total of 845 cases of HUS have been reported in Germany; 31 people have died from this complication of infection. There have also been 3,154 reported cases of bloody diarrhoea, also known as enterohaemorrhagic E-coli (EHEC) infection, including 17 deaths. The number of new cases has declined dramatically since mid-June, which could be due to changes in dietary habits or to a decrease in exposure to the source of infection.

Advice to travellers

VTEC is transmitted via the faecal-oral route. There is no vaccine available for travellers to prevent VTEC infection.

Travellers to Germany should practise food, water and personal hygiene precautions. The consumption of raw sprouted seeds should be avoided across Europe. Ensure sprouted seeds are cooked thoroughly and steaming hot before consumption.

Returning travellers with symptoms indicative of VTEC infection (i.e. bloody diarrhoea, cramping abdominal pain) should seek medical assistance as soon as possible and make sure they mention any recent travel history.

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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