Weekly travel health update from Nomad
Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 22 April

Weekly travel health update from Nomad

Weekly round-up of the world's travel health news from Nomad

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

20th April 2011

India – Cholera

Haryana - Cholera has broken out in pockets of Yamunanagar district. Sources in private hospitals say the number of cholera patients could well be 100 or more.

Philippines – Cholera

Palawan province - An outbreak of cholera has killed 19 members of a remote cave-dwelling Philippine tribe and sickened more than 400 others, the government said. Poor hygiene and the isolation of the Palawanon tribe had made treatment of the disease difficult, with doctors initially making a wrong diagnosis of diarrhoea, the health department said. The government agency dispatched a medical team to the island of Palawan last week to check the outbreak and concluded cholera was to blame, said Manuel Mapue, the head of the mission. "The whole area has no potable water system, and there are no toilets. Being indigenous tribes, these people just defecate anywhere," he told AFP. He said samples from the rivers used by the tribe for drinking water showed they were contaminated with feces.

Congo – Cholera

An outbreak of cholera that has claimed 51 lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo city of Kisangani since late February 2011 could worsen as heavy rains threaten to undermine an emergency chlorination program, warned health experts. The outbreak has led to the hospitalization of 913 people since it was first reported on 23 Feb 2011.

Cholera advice to travellers

Precautions should be taken to ensure good food, water and personal hygiene. Hand washing is very important and the use of an alcohol based hand gel is recommended where soap and water are not readily available. If planning to visit for a long time or travelling into affected areas, travellers should consider vaccination.  Vaccination involves 2 drinks given 1-6 weeks apart.

Bolivia – Dengue Fever

11,341 probable dengue cases have been reported, with 2280 confirmed and 27 deaths. These numbers exceed the total numbers of dengue cases of 2010, which were more than 9000 cases. The departments most affected are Santa Cruz de la Sierra with 5727 probable cases, 1404 confirmed cases and 11 deaths; Beni with 3269 probable cases, 314 confirmed cases and 14 deaths, and La Paz reports 993 probable cases, 308 confirmed cases and one death.

Brazil – Dengue Fever

Ceara - In all of Ceara, the number of confirmed dengue cases has reached 11 807. There are more than 1000 cases confirmed in this past week.

Ribeirao Preto - confirmed an additional 853 dengue cases this past week. The city now has 8256 confirmed cases of the disease.

Paraguay – Dengue Fever

The minister of public health and social welfare, Esperanza Martinez, admitted that this is the worst dengue epidemic in the history of this South American country. From January 2011 to the present, 26 792 people with febrile syndromes have been registered, and the reported incidence rate has increased to 157 cases per 100 000 population.

Dengue Fever 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, 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.

Zimbabwe – Malaria

A total of 11 people have died of malaria while 846 others have been treated for the killer disease in Goromonzi West.

Malaria 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.

France – Measles

France has experienced the largest outbreak, with 3749 measles cases officially reported in January and February 2011 -- 8 people have suffered neurological complications and one person has died due to measles-related pneumonia.

Spain – Measles

A measles outbreak is also ongoing in Andalusia, Spain, with more than 400 cases reported during the 1st 2 months of 2011.

Measle 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, 2 vaccines given ideally 1 month apart will provide cover.

Australia – Melioidosis

The Health Department is warning about the ongoing risk posed by a potentially deadly soil disease, which has infected 56 people in the Northern Territory this wet season. Melioidosis claims a number of lives each year in the Territory but its impact has been more significant in the past 2 wet seasons with a record number of infections, including some in Central Australia.

Melioidosis advice to travellers

Melioidosis is a disease caused by a bacteria that resides in soil and warm waters of rivers, seas and plantation paddy fields. It is acquired mainly via skin penetration but also by the respiratory route and by drinking contaminated water. Symptoms may include pain in chest, bones, or joints; cough; skin infections, lung nodules and pneumonia.  Travellers to affected areas (mainly Asia and Australia) should avoid bathing or walking in rice paddies, still waters, plantations and other water logged soils other than when wearing protective garments.

Thailand - Undiagnosed deaths

Another Thailand traveller was treated in hospital after spending time in Chiang Mai, where a number of tourists have mysteriously died since January. A 26 year old woman from Seattle became violently ill on 4 Apr 2011 along with 2 friends after eating and using restrooms at the Night Market in Chiang Mai. The Night Market is next door to a hotel plagued with mysterious tourist deaths since the beginning of this year.
She was treated in a Chiang Mai hospital after suffering chest pains and flu-like symptoms on 8 Apr 2011. They were staying at another nearby hotel. "My hands and legs were shaking and really sore, and later my husband told me that my eyes had rolled back in my head and my lips were blue. We were really scared," she said.

"The doctors in Thailand said it was probably food poisoning and dehydration”
The other Chiang Mai cases include:
  • An elderly couple from England died simultaneously of a heart attack inside their Downtown Inn hotel room on 28 Feb 2011.
  • A 23 year old woman from New Zealand, died in hospital 3 Mar 2011 after she and 2 friends became ill in the same hotel.
  • That same day, a 47 year old tourist guide was found dead in a room located next door to the New Zealander.
  • A 33 year old American woman also died after experiencing similar symptoms as Carter. However, she was not staying at the Downtown Inn and lab results for the cause of death have not been received. Her husband has demanded the Inn be closed and that he receive the lab reports.
  • A French woman was identified as being the 6th person to die with similar circumstances.
Four of the deaths have been linked to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that masks itself as flu symptoms or chest pain resembling a heart attack. The World Health Organization [WHO] told QMI Agency that the cases are under watch. "This event is being investigated by the authorities in Thailand," said Gregory, communications of WHO global Art and Response team. "The investigation is still on-going and no conclusions have been reached. I cannot tell you much more than that right now."
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