Archive for the ‘Disease’ Category

Ebola Outbreak

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Ebola Outbreak

According to the WHO as of 5th September 2014, there have been 2105 deaths from Ebola (probable, confirmed and suspected), in 4 countries, Sierra Lone, Nigeria, Liberia and Guinea.

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Philippines and Thailand – Leptospirosis Risk

 

The Philippines is regularly battered by tropical cyclones that bring flooding to large portions of the country from late May to early December. Leptospirosis is a disease associated with freshwater flooding and is an infection commonly transmitted to humans from water that has been contaminated by animal urine (usually rats), and comes in contact with lesions on the skin, eyes, or with the mucous membranes.

From January to 24 Sep this year, there have been at least 2061 recorded cases of leptospirosis with 156 casualties in the Philippines whilst in Thailand at the moment as flood waters continue to menace Bangkok and its surrounds, as well as the hundreds of cases of acute diarrhoea that are being reported each day, there have been 2 deaths from leptospirosis.

The signs and symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, chills, and intense headache. These appear within 4 to 14 days after exposure to contaminated flood waters or even mud. These may be accompanied by red eyes, jaundice, tea-coloured urine, and difficulty in urinating. In extreme cases, complications like meningitis, renal failure, and respiratory distress may arise and lead to death.

Advice to travellers: Minimise exposure to floodwaters where possible and wear protective gears such as boots and long pants in wading through flooded areas to reduce the risk of infection as the bacteria usually find their way through abraded skin or open wounds. Antibiotics may be recommended as prevention for those at high risk of exposure; or as treatment for those experiencing early symptoms.

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Hantavirus

No vaccines will prevent this one though being knowledgeable of your accommodation and environment might help. This rare, but rather topical virus is carried by rodents and can be passed on via contact with their excrement. It occurs in both North and South America and East Asia and was first isolated in 1978 in Korea.

No known illness has occurred in Australia though antibodies have been found in rodents in this country. The virus causes both respiratory disease (hantavirus pulmonary syndrome [HPS] and haemorrhagic renal problems [HFRS] with about 30% of those inflicted dying of the disease. Interestingly, it was investigated as a biological warfare agent by the US government – though this doesn’t happen nowadays. Imagine being attacked by weponised mouse urine!

A major outbreak has occurred in the United States over the last few months and new cases are still being discovered. There have been nine confirmed cases with three deaths in travellers to the ever popular Yosemite National Park. Most of the cases relate to a cluster of illnesses around the Signature Tent Cabins in Curry Village. Park records have shown that at least nine Australians could have been exposed in the period between June 10 and August 24 and urged to seek medical review if they become unwell. More info.

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Europe – Tick Encephalitis

 

Recently a US family have been awarded $41.7 million in compensation for their daughter catching Tick Encephalitis on a school trip to China. More info.

The disease is quite rare in China but is not uncommon in Europe. Most Australians have never heard of this disease! Tick Borne Encephalitis is a serious disease carried by tick bites in Europe. 1-10% of ticks in affected areas may harbour the virus, and whilst many sufferers have no effect, the disease can cause brain damage and death.

If you are travelling to Europe in the summer (risk season is April to October) and spending a month or more in the forests, vaccination may be recommended. The vaccine is not readily available in Australia, but in Europe the vaccine against TBE is the largest selling private vaccine. There have been 35 million doses prescribed since 1980. Austria has a national program for routine vaccination. Consult your local TMA clinic for more information. More info.

Areas with TE
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Travel Health Information

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