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Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 27 July

Wanderlust travel health update: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, India and more

Weekly round-up of the world's travel health news from Nomad including dengue fever in Cambodia, cholera in the Dominican Republic, malaria in India 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.

Thailand – Dengue Fever

The Public Health Ministry of Thailand has warned of a dengue fever outbreak, after reports that 20,000 people have been stricken during the past six months, 13 of them fatally. According to Public Health Ministry records, from January to June, 23,324 people were infected with the dengue virus. Of this number, 13 succumbed to the disease.

The record also showed that 52% of the total number of dengue cases were aged between ten and 24 years. About 650 cases were children aged less than one year, and 190 cases were aged over 65.

Cambodia – Dengue Fever

According to the National Dengue Control Programme NDCP, 4,626 patients, primarily children, were hospitalised in the first 27 weeks of this year (2011), compared to 2,888 in the same period last year. Additionally, 23 had died, compared to nine in the same period last year. The most serious outbreaks are in Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Kandal and Kampong Speu and Banteay Meanchey provinces.

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.

India – Japanese B Encephalitis

Altogether, 51 people have died, and 226 others have been affected by encephalitis and allied diseases in Assam since the beginning of this month. Sivasagar district was the worst-hit, with 21 dead so far and 100 others affected.

Advice to travellers

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.

India – Malaria

The threat of Malaria is looming over the national capital, with the city registering 53 positive cases of the mosquito-borne disease, outnumbering Dengue cases – which is only five, in the current monsoon season. 53 cases of Malaria have been reported so far in the current season as against 13 cases registered in the same period last year.

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% effective 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.

Dominican Republic – Cholera

The Dominican Republic's death toll in the cholera epidemic that spread from Haiti has risen to 87 out of more than 13,000 suspected cases, authorities said on Friday 22 July 2011. The country shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, where the epidemic began.

The Dominican health ministry reported that the death toll had risen by 16 since 8 July 2011 to 87. According to the ministry, there have been 773 new cases in the past week, for a total of 13,200 since the beginning of the epidemic, which spread to the Dominican Republic from Haiti in November 2010.

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 two drinks given one to six weeks apart.

Republic of Congo – Chikungunya

The Republic of Congo has reported an outbreak that has caused illness in thousands of people. Since the end of May 2011, the capital city of Brazzaville, and Pointe Noire have been affected, and as of 1 July 2011, it has spread to the neighbouring Pool region. The total number of reported cases in the country has reached 7,474.

Islands of the Indian Ocean – Chikungunya

Confirmed cases of chikungunya have been reported from the Seychelles (one confirmed case) and Madagascar (five confirmed and 102 suspected cases).

New Caledonia – Chiungunya

Thirty-three cases have been reported. Of these, 29 cases were from Noumea, one case from Sarramea and three cases from Dumbéa.

Thailand – Chikungunya

A total of 90 cases have been reported in 15 provinces of Thailand. To date, the most affected provinces are Southern Province, followed by Central Province, North Province and North-East Province.

India – Chikungunya

Seven states have reported 1,180 suspected cases of chikungunya. The state of West Bengal has

reported most of the cases (504), followed by Tamil Nadu (328) and Maharashtra (154). The remaining cases were reported from Karnataka, Goa and Kerala.

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.

Vietnam – Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

The Preventive Medicine Department in Ho Chi Minh City reported 17,000 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) across the country, with South Vietnam reporting 13,600 cases alone.

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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