Outbreak Information and News
Australia, USA Chile, and many others - Whooping Cough
This problem is just not going away, and we adults can catch
this and carry it AND give it to newborns who could actually
die! We should all be vaccinated
for this, travel or not! The disease lasts 3 months and none
of us want to be coughing for 100 nights!
Brazil - Dengue Fever
There have been 22,859 cases since Christmas and 7 deaths in
Rio de Janeiro state alone. All travel to a tropical
destination puts you at risk of this very serious disease.
Insect repellant containing 30% DEET
is a must! Repellant should be applied every
4 hours! Repel is one such product.
Everywhere! - Measles
Even Australian's can catch it if they travel. The
Netherlands have issued a travel warning to soccer fans
travelling to the Ukraine, but Spain and the USA also have
cases. If you are unsure, have another vaccine, especially
if born after 1966! It's a nasty
disease and it can kill!
Cambodia - Bird Flu
Since 2005, there have been 20 cases resulting in 18 deaths.
Contact with live poultry is not
recommended, and cooking any birds before eating
is definitely advisable!
USA and Europe - Bali Belly
Cases of EColi infection (known as Bali Belly) are reported
in western countries because of
uncooked food or milk being consumed. Travel to
developing countries puts one at an even larger risk so it
is best to take care when eating and drinking. But there is
a vaccine to help too, see your TMA clinic for further
UK - CJD or "Mad Cow" Disease
UK: National CJD Surveillance Unit has recently issued an
updated report. The number of deaths due to definite or
probable vCJD as of Mon 2 Apr 2012 remains 176. No
definite/probable patient remains alive, so the total number
of definite or probable vCJD cases (dead and alive) remains
176. The overall picture remains consistent with the view
that the vCJD outbreak in the UK is
in decline, albeit now with a pronounced tail.
The 1st cases were observed in 1995, and the peak number of
deaths was 28 in the year 2000, followed by 20 in 2001, 17
in 2002, 18 in 2003, 9 in 2004, 5 in 2005, 5 in 2006, 5 in
2007, one in 2008, 3 in 2009, 3 in 2010, 5 in 2011, and none
so far in 2012.
Lassa Fever - Nigeria
At the beginning of 2012, WHO was notified by the Federal
Ministry of Health in Nigeria of an outbreak of Lassa fever.
As of March 22, 2012, 623 suspected cases, including 70
deaths have been recorded from 19 of the 36 States since the
beginning of the year. Laboratory analysis undertaken at the
Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua Edo State has
confirmed the presence of Lassa virus infection in 108
patients. Three doctors and four nurses were reported to be
among the fatalities. The disease is
caused by a virus transmitted from the
urine and faeces of a particular type of mouse
that is usually in houses searching for food. It is believed
to cause about 5000 deaths annually. Travellers need to
avoid staying in local houses, where exposure to these
animals is very common.
Vietnam - Hand Food and Mouth Disease
A dangerous strain of the typically non-lethal
hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) [virus] has affected more
than 21 000 persons - mostly children younger than five -
killing 16 thus far in Vietnam, according to the Ministry of
Health. "Despite being a benign viral infection in developed
countries, the strain EV71 [Human enterovirus 71] of HFMD is
causing multiple deaths of children under five here in
Nile Cruise - Noroxin
The incidence of travellers diarrhoea in persons cruising
down the Nile approaches 90%, so in the past Travel Medicine
doctors have sometimes prescribed a
daily dose of Noroxin. Recent research has
highlighted a rare potential side effect. More info on
Dr Deb's blog.
The Anti Vaccine Lobby
There is a lot of debate about vaccines, safety
and side effects. I will attempt to discuss some
of the 'issues' and engage your thought
processes in a different way.
Doctors are sometimes deemed to have one sided
views, but perhaps others also have one sided
views. Who is right? Are both groups right
sometimes? Or both wrong? No doubt, time will
tell. A bit like 'the earth is not flat'
theorists. It took them a while to be proven
right, and then it was obvious they were right.
There are now two groups I have found on
Facebook. One is called the Australian
Vaccination Network and the other rather
curiously, Stop the Australian Vaccination
Network. They have had public and legal fights,
so it is all quite serious!
The Australian Vaccine Network (AVN) is not what
it sounds like. It is AGAINST vaccination.
Unfortunately this can go unnoticed if you just
are looking for information about vaccines,
especially if you are the lay public.
The latest efforts by this group are to
resurrect the "zombie" that is the autism
epidemic. As you may know, autism was
supposedly linked (by this organisation and
others) to measles vaccination in the 1990's and
then in 2011, unlinked in spectacular
fashion....the "link" was the result of a
fraudulent study, but that has not deterred most
of the believers, if any! So what has happened
The USA CDC have recently announced that autism is now
occurring in 1 in 88 births. I won't bore you with the
details, but the incidence is as scientifically possible
proven using the same methods year in, year out. Two years
ago, the data suggested that the incidence was 1 in 110.(Oh,
and 1 in 10,000 in the 1960's) So there is a "clear"
increase in the rate of autism. Now remember, this was all
put down to mercury and other similar substances in vaccines
which were all removed in 1998-2001. But the incidence is
still rising. Make sense? No. Do we take the link to
vaccines away in our minds? Some might think to do that.
Maybe, given the linking study was fraudulent in the first
place and the incidence is still rising, we should add
another nail in the coffin of these claims. But the AVN do
not do anything like that at all, they use it to make their
argument stronger. Equally peculiar when you think about it,
bringing people's attention to such a study is not what I
would be doing if I were in charge.
I think what we all have to realise is that this stuff is
very complicated. People can make claims and they can be
false, and it's hard to prove either way. Those in positions of
power like government, try hard to control and direct what
we have available to use as vaccines. For obvious reasons
such as public health initiatives. This Vaccination Network
group will stop at nothing to make their case, yet they
confuse the very information they have at their disposal and
do not use evidence to back them up. AUTISM rates should be
going down since the mercury was removed, essentially
because of groups like this, but do they admit it?
Apparently not, and are they thinking about it? Definitely
Scientists have to prove everything by using scientific
methods, developing trials and studies and collecting data,
often not knowing what is going on themselves to protect the
studies sincerity. Only if the scientists can prove
something beyond doubt, can they make claim to it as true.
Other groups do not have to do this. They can make a claim
with no hard proof, and this information some how gets equal
weight in an argument or discussion. I must confess, to give
equal weighting to the two sides does not seem logical,
sensible, or the way I would like to approach protecting my
health. The more information based on irrefutable fact the
Anyone travelling overseas will be at risk of all the
childhood diseases and they should be immunized against
Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Tetanus, Polio etc. if you are
travelling overseas, remember, these diseases can be fatal,
or worse, permanently disabling. Take the vaccine if it is
recommended, the downside is very limited. In particular, if
you are born between 1966 and 1980, Measles is a vaccine (an MMR) you probably need, and if you were born after 1987,
polio vaccine might just save you from an iron lung!
And of course, listen to your travel medicine specialist
about the vaccines you need for your specific destination!
Dr Brian Gilbert TMA Member
Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is
a change that goes on, deep and permanent in the
ideas of living.
Miriam Beard b. 1901
World Malaria Day and Anzac Day
Coincide - April 25 2012
Almost half the worlds population are at risk of malaria,
and 7% of them get malaria every year. That is 216,000,000
cases of malaria in the world annually! Treatment currently
limits the deaths to 650,000 per annum, but it is still a
massive problem for developing societies.
Travellers visiting Africa are most at risk, but each
country is different and each city can have a different risk
to the next. Rather than taking a risk, it is worth seeing
the experts, looking at their up to date maps and finding
out if you could be unwittingly exposing yourself to this
sometimes fatal disease. Good examples to highlight this are
the following places, where we have found tourists are
surprised when we say they "need to take malaria pills".
Borneo, Zimbabwe, Laos, Brazil, Peru Amazon, Central
America, Myanmar, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands,
Indonesia ... but remember, almost any tropical country puts
you at some risk!
Seek professional advice and take the tablets prescribed
until the very end of the course!
Dr Brian Gilbert TMA Member