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Blog Words : Wanderlust health advice | 08 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 travel clinics. See their website for more details. 

April 7, 2011

Australia – Q Fever

Reports of the little known Q fever on the Coffs Coast, New South Wales are causing concern to residents and health authorities. There are unconfirmed reports of up to six cases presenting at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus during the past six weeks.

Q fever is a bacterial infection that can affect the lungs, liver, heart, and other parts of the body. Humans usually get Q fever by breathing in contaminated droplets released by infected animals. Drinking raw milk has also caused infection in rare cases. Travellers should avoid close contact with potentially infected animals. People at risk (for example, farmers and veterinarians) should always: Carefully dispose of animal products that may be infected, disinfect any contaminated areas, thoroughly wash hands after contact. There is no vaccine available and it can be treated with antibiotics.

Brazil – Dengue Fever

Rio de Janeiro City -  The Health Secretariat in Rio de Janeiro city reported the number of dengue fever cases in the city has surpassed 10,000 in the first three months of 2011. The 10,158 cases from January to March easily eclipse the number of cases from the entire 2009 and 2010.

Sao Paulo state - The state secretariat of health reported that there have been 3,390 cases of the disease transmitted within the state.

Parana - In the entire state, 27,918 suspected dengue cases have been registered, with 5,684 confirmed.

Bahia - The most recent total number of dengue cases up to March 12, 2011 was 9,584.

Amazonas - The dengue epidemic has reached 28,562 reported cases between January and March 23, 2011 in Amazonas.

Alagoas has had 2,449 dengue cases so far this year.(Promed)

Paraguay – Dengue Fever

Health authorities in Paraguay are intensifying their efforts to control dengue in various parts of the country, which has taken the lives of 20 people with a confirmed total of 3,898 infected individuals. In 2010 there were 15 deaths and more than 10,000 cases.

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 two percent chance of developing into Dengue Haemorrhagic fever which can be fatal.  There is currently no vaccine available and therefore insect bite avoidance is essential.

Madagascar – Plague

In Madagascar, the death toll from plague is rising. According to official figures 60 people have died of the infectious disease. About 200 people were also infected with the plague, the health authority said in Antananarivo. "We are very concerned," said Bruno Maes from the UN children's agency UNICEF in the capital of Madagascar over the rapid spread of the plague. Meanwhile, almost all regions of the island nation in southeast Africa are affected by the disease.

In plague-endemic areas travellers should avoid contact with rats and should be advised on how to store and dispose of food product to prevent attraction to rodents. Avoid flea bites where possible by using DEET on skin and premethrin on clothing. Travellers should also be discouraged from camping and handling rodents both dead or alive.

Pneumonic plague can also be spread via the respiratory route so travelers should avoid close contact with people in affected areas especially in crowded situations. Consider taking an anti bacterial handwash such as H2ONO.

Malaysia (Sawarak) – Cholera

The Sarawak Medical Department has launched a detection campaign in Limbang to contain a cholera outbreak, which has affected more than100 people. There have been 111 cases so far. Two are in a serious condition, a pregnant woman and a renal patient, have been admitted to Miri General Hospital.

Dominican Republic – Cholera

A cholera outbreak has killed seven people and infected nearly 650 in the Dominican Republic. A 43-year-old woman living in Pedernales, 205 miles west of Santo Domingo, died this week, bringing the total to seven deaths, the public health minister said in a statement.

Haiti – Cholera

The death toll due to cholera in Haiti has reached 4,672, since the first case was detected in October 2010. 252,640 people were infected with the disease and 136,407 were hospitalized. The Ouest region, where the capital city of Port au Prince is located, is the most affected with 876 deaths. Artibonite, where the disease was first detected, registered 874 deaths. Nippes is the least affected territory with 152 fatalities.

Papua New Guinea – Cholera

Tests in Port Moresby have confirmed a cholera epidemic in Bougainville province, particularly the northern tip of Buka Island. Already 65 cases have been treated at the Lemanmanu medical command post. Fifteen cases required admission and have already been treated and discharged. The death toll still stands at two but the disease has spread across Gogohe and Hutjena and those affected were sent back to Haku, where the disease started. The Cholera Task Force is now looking at strict measures to contain the epidemic from causing more deaths and to further prevent it from spreading all over Bougainville.

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 two drinks given 1-6 weeks apart.

India – Mizoram state

A total of six people died of cerebral malaria in south Mizoram's Lunglei district in March.

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.

Philippines – Measles

More than 2,000 cases of measles have been recorded in the Philippines in the first three months of the year (2011). The highest number of cases are in the National Capital Region (311), followed by Central Luzon (298), Bicol region (277) and Calabarzon (238). Slightly fewer cases are reported from Davao region, Ilocos region and Zamboanga peninsula. An immunisation campaign is underway to try to stop the increasing incidence of measles in the Philippines; there were 6,000 cases in 2010.(Travax)

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.

Japan – Post Earthquake

Advice for travel to areas of Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 (Taken from www.Nathnac.org)

Regions affected: The northeast coast of Honshu island.

The worst affected areas are the east coast of Tohoku region and southern Hokkaido.

Following explosions at the Fukushima nuclear facility 150km north of Tokyo, a 20km exclusion zone is in place.

As an extra precaution, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British nationals to remain outside an 80km radius of the nuclear facility.

Safety: The FCO is currently advising against all but essential travel to north-eastern Japan.

The FCO advises that anyone within an 80km radius of the Fukushima nuclear facility should leave the area or remain indoors if unable to travel.

Travellers intending to visit Japan should regularly consult the FCO website for the latest information about safety and the advisability of travelling. Travellers should check with their airline and tour operator to see if their intended travel is still going ahead. British nationals in Japan should follow local advice to ensure their safety in the event of further aftershocks and tsunamis.

British nationals in Japan should contact the FCO if they require assistance and to report that they are safe. The FCO helpline number is: +44 (0)20 7008 0000

Consular staff at the British Embassy in Tokyo are available between 09:30-16:30 Monday to Friday to provide assistance to British nationals. If assistance is required outside of these hours, the British Embassy can be contacted on 03 5211 1100

The FCO can also be contacted via email (japan.earthquake@fco.gov.uk) or skype (text not call) on "fcojapan" and updates are available via social media including twitter (@fcotravel) and Facebook.

All travellers to Japan should ensure they have appropriate health insurance, and that it is valid, particularly if visiting areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

The advice here has been supplied by Nomad Travel (www.nomadtravel.co.uk). Wanderlust readers can save 10% off clothing, equipment and now travel clinics... More