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Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 23 June

Wanderlust travel health update: India, Germany, USA, Australia

Weekly round-up of the world's travel health news from Nomad including dengue fever in India, measles in the USA and E.Coli in Europe

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.

India – Dengue Fever

Again, dengue fever has begun to take a grip on Thiruvananthapuram city with the increase in rainfall. Fever cases had been going up in many parts of the city in the past few days since the onset of the monsoon. While only two to four cases of dengue were reported in the district on a daily basis, on 17 June, the district health administration's
dengue toll for the day stood at 22.

Australia – Dengue Fever

Queensland Health has declared dengue fever outbreaks in Innisfail, Cairns, and Townsville to be officially over. During the outbreaks, 69 people were diagnosed with the mosquito borne disease.

Brazil – Dengue Fever

Jaguapita and Quinta do Sol, Parana state: In the Maringa region, Cases have exceeded 300 per 100,000 population, considered to be of epidemic status.

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.

Germany/Europe – E.Coli

As of 20 June, a total of 814 cases of HUS have been reported in Germany; 27 people have died from this complication of infection. There have also been 2,773 reported cases of bloody diarrhoea, also known as enterohaemorrhagic E.coli (EHEC) infection, and 12
deaths associated with this syndrome. For the last two weeks the number of new cases has been declining which could be due to changes in dietary habits or to a decrease in exposure to the source of infection. The majority of cases have been reported in northern
Germany, but there have been cases in all other federal states of Germany. Following careful analysis of the food items ingested by persons with HUS or EHEC, German authorities have implicated sprouted beans are a likely source of infection. This remains an active area of investigation.

Advice for travellers

VTEC is transmitted via the faecal-oral route. There is no vaccine available for travellers to prevent a VTEC infection. Travellers to Germany should practise food and water hygiene precautions and raw sprouts should not be eaten. German authorities also advise
against swimming in rivers in Hessen due to contamination of these waters with E.coli O104:H4.

There is no risk of contamination of drinking water. 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 (NaTHNaC).

India – Anthrax

One person from Kandhamal district who was undergoing treatment for suspected anthrax, died at a hospital in Berhampur, Orissa. Six others were admitted in the hospital last week after suffering from suspected anthrax, and eight people, including a four year old girl,
were admitted to the hospital. All the 14 patients belonged to San Guchhuka and Bada Guchhuka villages of Tumudibandh block. Besides the two villages, the disease had not spread to other places following precautionary measures to contain its spread.

Advice to travellers

Anthrax is a bacterial illness that usually affects the skin, but may also affect the gastrointestinal tract or lungs. It is spread by infected animals either through eating infected animals or contact with their hides, wool, hair, bone or carcasses. Anthrax does not spread from person to person. Depending on the type, symptoms can include lesions, nausea, vomiting, and altered mental state and can be fatal.

Prevention of anthrax is dependent upon the control of the disease in livestock and on disinfecting, washing and scouring imported animal products. Vaccination is available but normally only considered for those at risk from inhalation of spores in an occupational or military setting. Travellers should avoid contact with animals and potentially contaminated meat in affected areas.

India – Undiagnosed Encephlaiits

Encephalitis has claimed the lives of 17 children so far in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district over the last two weeks. Blood samples have been collected from four children who are said to be in a serious condition. Another 30 children have been admitted to the same hospital.

USA – Measles

Health officials say that 118 cases of measles have been reported already this year (2011); that's the highest number of measles cases to be reported this early in the year since 1996.

Republic of Congo – Measles

A measles epidemic in the Republic of Congo has infected 800 people and killed 32 in Pointe-Noire, according to a local newspaper.

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.

Republic of Congo – Chikungunya

In June 2011, 480 cases of chikungunya virus infections have been reported in a southern district of Brazzaville.

Advice to travellers

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

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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