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Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 22 September

Wanderlust travel health update: Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Estonia

This week's world health news from Nomad including: dengue fever in Sri Lanka, measles in New Zealand and hepatitis A in Estonia

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.

Thailand – Dengue Fever

Almost 40,000 people across the country have developed the symptoms of dengue fever. Among 37,728 patients who have dengue fever, 27 have died. The central region has reported the highest number of patients followed by the north, the north-east, and the south.

Costa Rica – Dengue Fever

5,000 dengue cases have been registered in Limon province. In the past nine weeks, there has been a 70% increase in cases.

Taiwan – Dengue Fever

The confirmed local-cases of dengue fever has reached 113. The cases are mainly concentrated in Kaohsiung City's Lingya District, with some others scattered around Kaohsiung's Sinsing District and Cianjien District, among other places.

Sri Lanka – Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is increasing rapidly in the country, with the ongoing rains, and 124 people have died. The Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry in its latest statistics revealed that 17,105 dengue cases had been reported from all parts of the country as of 5 September.

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.

Sri Lanka – Leptospirosis

Chilaw regional health authorities have restricted entrance to the Maradankulama Tank after receiving information from Public Health Officers in the region about the spread of leptospirosis. One death has so far, been reported from the region, with more residents also said to be showing symptoms of the deadly disease. It had been reported that crowds were entering the tank to fetch water as well as collect lotus stems as the region was experiencing a severe drought.

Advice to travellers

Leptosirosis 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.

Bolivia – Rabies

The city of Oruro, capital of Oruro department in the west of Bolivia has a problem with stray dogs and an estimated 30,000 populate the city. There have been ten cases of canine rabies laboratory confirmed in the capital and around ten individuals a day report dog bites.

In 2010, a total of 1,598 dog bites were registered in Oruro. Vaccination of stray dogs was carried out in August 2011 in an effort to contain the rabies outbreak, however culling of unvaccinated stray animals began earlier this month (Source: Travax).

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.

Ireland – Measles

A measles vaccination "blitz" is underway in schools around Dublin's north inner city, after a surge in the spread of the disease among local children. There have been 135 reported cases of measles in Ireland since the start of the year -- with over 70% of them diagnosed in the north inner district of Dublin city. Several countries in Europe have also seen a surge in measles this year; travel during the summer months saw a rise in the UK also.

Tanzania (Zanzibar) – Measles

Health authorities have confirmed increasing cases of measles in the Zanzibar islands.

They have so far recorded 262 cases (up from 70 last month) – in both Unguja and Pemba islands. Forty children are now in hospital.

New Zealand – Measles

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service can confirm 119 cases of measles in the Auckland region. Ten people are in quarantine. Nine cases have required hospitalisation during this outbreak. Most cases have occurred in west Auckland with some spread to central Auckland, North Shore, and Manukau.

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.

Estonia – Hepatitis A

There have been 41 cases of Hepatitis A in Estonia. Of those, 29 have been confirmed in Viljandi County. The first case was confirmed in Viljandi this past February, and it was linked to travel abroad.

However, since 25 August 2011, the number of cases has spiked dramatically: 28 cases reported across the county, 25 of these in the town of Viljandi.

Advice to travellers

Hepatitis A is spread via the faecal-oral route; by people not washing their hands before preparing food, contaminated food (especially shellfish), water or just close proximity with an infected person. It affects the liver and adults can take many months to fully recover.

Travellers should ensure they eat ‘safe’ food and drink ‘safe’ water and be vaccinated prior to travel. Vaccination consists of two injections, the first lasts approximately one year and the second at least 20 years.

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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