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Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 20 July

Wanderlust travel health update: Thailand, Philippines, Australia and more

Weekly round-up of the world's travel health news from Nomad including dengue fever in Thailand and the Philippines, whooping cough in Australia 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.

Russia – Lyme Disease

The public health officials for Leningrad Oblast (region) have announced 39 cases of Lyme disease. Overall 5,068 people have sought medical advice after tick bites.

Advice to travellers

Spread by infected tick bites, Lyme disease can cause a rash followed by joint pain and rarely neurological problems such as facial palsy and meningitis. Months or even year’s later, destructive arthritis and rarely dementia may be found. It can be treated with antibiotics. There is no vaccine currently available and travellers should therefore avoid tick bites by applying permethrin to clothing, wearing long trousers / sleeves while out walking and check for ticks regularly.

Should ticks be found, seek advice, especially if in risk areas and/or you have multiple ticks.

India – Japanese Encephalitis

Since 1 January 2011, a total of 626 encephalitis patients were admitted to the BRD Medical College and other government hospitals in the eastern Uttar Pradesh region. Out of these, 101 succumbed to the disease.

Gorakhpur and Kushinagar are the worst affected districts.

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. 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.

Thailand – Dengue Fever

Over 100 cases of dengue infection were reported in Maha Sarakham province. Recently, there were 155 cases treated at Maha Sarakham hospital and other government health centres.

Brazil – Dengue Fever

Mato Grosso do Sul state: So far in 2011, 12,840 dengue cases have been reported.

Philippines – Dengue Fever

The Department of Health has declared a dengue outbreak in five of six municipalities in Batanes. The DOH has reported one death due to dengue and 901 cases, compared to only one case last year.

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 ‘break bone’ 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.

Philippines – Leptosporosis

With leptosporosis cases sky-rocketing in the Philippines due to flooding throughout the archipelago, health officials are expressing alarm over the outbreak and warning citizens to avoid flood waters or take precautions if they can't avoid it.

Officials from the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila reported that they have seen six people die due to the bacterial disease since 1 July 2011. The hospital has seen 37 total cases in the time frame. The outbreak is large and growing, a total of 521 leptosporosis cases and 38 deaths were reported from 1 January to 25 June 2011.

Advice to travellers

Leptosporosis is a bacterial infection spread by rodents mainly rats or small mammals through contaminated water. The infection comes from the urine or other secretions of the mammal and enters the human via open skin lesions and/or mucous membranes.

Travellers should avoid contact with potentially contaminated water (rivers, flooded areas etc). They should shower well after any possible exposure and protect any open cuts/lesions with waterproof plasters.

China – Scarlet Fever

A large outbreak of scarlet fever has been ongoing since the beginning of the year (2011) in mainland China. The total number of cases recorded on the National Notifiable Infectious Diseases table stand at 30,999 cases year to date.

Advice to travellers

Scarlet fever is a disease caused by infection with the group A Streptococcus bacteria. It was once a very serious childhood disease, but now is easily treatable. It causes a fever and sore throat then a rash that can last for more than a week. As the rash fades, peeling (desquamation) may occur around the fingertips, toes, and groin area. Other symptoms include a swollen, red tongue (strawberry tongue) and flu like symptoms. It can be treated with antibiotics.

Australia – Whooping Cough

Between 1 January and 11 July 2011, there have been 18,299 notifications of cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Australia. This represents an increase in cases from the same period in 2010.

The majority of cases have occurred in three states: New South Wales (6,427), Queensland (4,349) and Victoria (4,556).

Advice to travellers

Primary and reinforcing doses of pertussis vaccine are routinely recommended for all children under the age of ten years in the UK. Pertussis-containing vaccine is not recommended for children over the age of ten years or for adults.

Non-immune travellers visiting affected areas in Australia and who will have close contact with children less than 12 months of age should practice routine respiratory precautions such as good hand hygiene and avoiding persons known to be infected. Long term travellers to risk areas can consider receiving a pertussis-containing vaccine formulated for adults and adolescents at their destination.

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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