Travel Health News

Travel Health News Digest (19 January 2012)

Health advice for the travellers during Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year holidays are coming and many will travel abroad. On the eve of the season, this Service reminds travellers to adopt measures to protect their health.

1. Before the trip: Have a sound understanding of the travel health risks of your destinations and relevant preventive measures, including vaccinations and medications. As some vaccines may not become effective immediately, one should allow enough time for vaccination.

2. Travel Alert: Ones are encouraged to make reference to the Outbound Travel Alert system of the Security Bureau before travelling abroad or firming up their travel plans. Travellers should pay attention to local news and current affairs when visiting high risk areas.

3. Avoid mosquito bites: Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis can be transmitted by bites of mosquitoes. These vector-borne diseases are endemic in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Travellers should always take active measures to prevent Mosquito-borne diseases.

4. Good personal and food hygiene: Gastrointestinal diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Traveller’s Diarrhoea can be contracted by consuming contaminated food or water. They are common in tropical areas like Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa where perennial hot environment promotes the growth of germs. Travellers should keep good Food and Personal Hygiene.

5. Beware of extreme weather: Some popular tourist areas, such as Phuket, Japan and Korea, where the weather is very hot and cold respectively. Extreme weather can trigger diseases, especially among the elderly and people suffering from heart disease, respiratory illness or chronic medical conditions. One should know how to deal with the extreme temperature when visiting these areas. The advices to follow can be found at Heat and cold section of our Travel Health web site. Moreover, when travellers are participating in skiing, they should know whether they are fit for the sport or not. Beginners should be under the guidance of a coach and warm-up exercise is necessary before skiing to prevent injury.

6. Avian Influenza: Recently there were cases of Avian Influenza infections in many countries and human infections were also reported in some countries. Avian Influenza mainly infects birds but occasionally affects humans. Travellers are advised to remain vigilant and adopt precautions against the infection.

7. Safe sex: Unsafe sex can lead to HIV and Sexually transmitted diseases. Data shows that many HIV  infected cases in Hong Kong might have been infected aboard. It is advised that condoms should always be used properly to reduce the risk of HIV and Sexually transmitted diseases.

8. Beware of Accidents: One should be careful in driving and high-risk activities like sky diving, shooting rapids, high altitude trekking, diving etc.

9. Drug and health products consumption: There have been reports of adverse drug reaction following consumption of drugs or health products purchased outside Hong Kong. Some of these products, especially for analgesics, slimming products, and virility products, were found to be adulterated with western medicine. One should seek advice from their family doctors before they travel and prepare standby medications. Products of unknown ingredients should not be purchased or consumed when travel. The travellers should consult medical doctors immediately if feeling sick.

10. On return: Seek medical attention if you have diarrhoea, stomach pain, fever or rash. Remember to inform doctor about your travel history so as to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment.


Indonesia: Avian Influenza, human

The Ministry of Health of Indonesia announced one new human case of H5N1 Avian Influenza. The patient was 23-year-old man from Jakarta Province. He developed symptoms on 31 December 2011 and died on 7 January 2012. Of the 183 cases confirmed to date in Indonesia, 151 have been fatal.

(Source: World Health Organization 11 January 2012)


Indonesia: Chikungunya Fever

In Indonesia, at least 200 human cases of Chikungunya Fever were reported in Depok, West Java in the past one month.

(Source: Promed Mail 8 January 2012)


India: Avian Influenza, poultry

In India, an outbreak of H5N1 Avian Influenza which killed 3 out of the some 35 000 susceptible birds was reported in a village in Orissa.

(Source: World Organisation for Animal Health 11 January 2012)


Australia: Pertussis

As of 23 December 2011, a total of 3 597 cases of Pertussis were reported in Western Australia, Australia. This represented about 2.5-fold increase as compared with last year.

(Source: ProMED-mail 11 January 2012)


Syria: Black Travel Alert

As widespread violent clashes occurred in many cities across Syria, including Daraa, Latakia, Damascus, Baniyas, Aleppo, Homs and Hama, resulting in serious casualties, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has raised the Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) for Syria to Black. Residents are urged to avoid all travel to the country. Those already there should attend to their personal safety and avoid protests and large gatherings of people.

For more information, please visit the OTA webpage.

(Source: Security Bureau, Government of Hong Kong SAR 26 April 2011)


Philippines: Black Travel Alert

Following the hostage taking incident in the Philippines which had caused casualties, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has raised the Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) for the Philippines to Black. Hong Kong residents are urged to avoid all travel to the Philippines. Those already there should attend to their personal safety and stay alert.

For more information, please visit the OTA webpage.

(Source: Security Bureau, Government of Hong Kong SAR 20 September 2010)


WHO FAQs: Japan Nuclear Concerns

For more information, please visit the World Health Organization webpage.



Last revision date: 10 October 2012