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Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 13 July

Wanderlust travel health update: Colombia, Honduras, Russia and more

Weekly round-up of the world's travel health news from Nomad including dengue fever in Colombia, leishmaniasis in Honduras and measles in Russia

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.

Colombia – Dengue Fever

There have been a total of 17,488 dengue cases, of which 16,710 were classical dengue fever and 778 were serious dengue cases to date in 2011.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Dengue Fever

In the first six months of 2011, Rio de Janeiro state registered 109 dengue deaths, according to the state Secretariat of Health. The number of suspected (dengue) cases during this same period was 147,346.

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.

India – Japanese Encephalitis

The number of cases of Japanese encephalitis in the seven high-risk districts of Uttar Pradesh has shot up with the arrival of the monsoon, despite the extensive immunisation undertaken by the government to control it.

The state has already seen 79 more cases and ten more deaths due to encephalitis, compared to 2010. According to reports received by the Medical and Health Department, last year the state recorded 371 cases and 67 deaths from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), while this year the number of cases has already reached 450 and deaths 77.

Advice to travelers

Japanese Encephalitis is spread by night biting mosquitoes in certain parts of Asia. Outbreaks occur mainly during or just after monsoon time however can happen year round. The risk to short term travellers is very low, particularly if they are only visiting urban areas, with overall estimates of one case per million travellers.

The risk becomes greater for persons who intend to live or travel in risk areas for long periods of time, and have rural trips during transmission seasons. The majority of cases of JE are asymptomatic or non-specific. Encephalitis is estimated to occur in one in 300 patients (NaTHNaC).

Travellers to affected areas should seek advice prior to their trip. Vaccination is available and consists of two or three injections over a four to six week period. Bite avoidance is essential.

Honduras – Leishmaniasis

During the second week of June 2011, the staff of the Francisco Bertrand Health Center of the city of Santa Cruz de Yojoa treated seven patients with skin lesions. Laboratory testing confirmed the diagnosis of Leishmaniasis.

Advice to travellers

Cutaneous Leishmaniasis is spread by the bite of an infected sandfly. The bite becomes a lesion which gradually grows in size. Bite avoidance is essential. Cover all exposed skin with DEET and treat clothing with permethrin. Sleep under a mosquito net whenever possible.

Russia – Measles

17 people in Astrakhan have been diagnosed with measles. These cases are the first after a three-year break. The region was considered to be measles-free; however, eight adults and nine children have been diagnosed with measles recently. The local public health authorities consider the cases to be imported cases, and blame the primary healthcare system for a failure to maintain an adequate level of immunisation in the population.

Switzerland – Measles

Swiss federal health officials say the measles epidemic which broke out earlier this year is still ongoing, although at a slower pace. Officials registered 44 cases of measles in just four days, Jean-Louis Zurcher, a spokesman for the Federal Office of Public Health, told public television recently. So far, there have been more than 600 cases of measles this year, mostly affecting the cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Graubunden, Zurich and Bern.

Congo – Measles

An outbreak of measles has been reported from the territory of Kongolo, Kantanga province in the south of the country. Six children have died as a result and a further 230 cases of measles have been reported in children under the age of three years. No information on the immunisation status of children in the area is available in this report.

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.

Angola – Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness)

A total of 76 cases of sleeping sickness were diagnosed in the first half of this year (2011) in the six endemic provinces of the country – that is Malanje, Uije, Kwanza Norte, Kwanza Sul, Bengo, and Zaire.

Advice for travellers

Travellers to endemic areas should be aware of the risk and avoid contact with tsetse flies if possible. Avoiding bites is very difficult as tsetse flies can bite through clothing and are not repelled by currently available insect-repellent products.

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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