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Travel Health News Digest (9 July 2013 - 15 July 2013)

Advice for pilgrims visiting Mecca, Saudi Arabia (Hajj)

Pilgrims are advised to note the followings:

  1. Vaccination against meningitis

  2. The Saudi Arabia government requires all pilgrims on entry to produce a certificate of vaccination against the meningococcal disease using the quadrivalent vaccine (serogroups A, C, W135 and Y). The certificate should be not more than 3 years and not less than 10 days before arrival.

     

  3. Vaccination against seasonal influenza

  4. The Saudi Arabia government recommends that pilgrims be vaccinated against seasonal influenza before arrival, particularly those with pre-existing conditions (e.g. the elderly, people with chronic chest or heart diseases or cardiac, hepatic or renal failure).

     

  5. Be Vigilant against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

  6. Travellers should take note of MERS-CoV (formerly known as novel coronavirus). Most of the cases reported to date originated or returned from the Middle East and subsequently became ill. The most common symptoms observed include fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. Approximately half of the patients have died.

    In view of the severity and possibility of spread of the illness among human through close contact, if you are travelling to the Middle East for vacation or pilgrimage, please observe personal and environmental hygiene strictly at all times such as avoiding undercooked meats, raw fruits and vegetables, unless they have been peeled, or unsafe water. Travellers should also avoid direct contact with animals, birds, poultry or sick people during the journey and should wear face masks in crowded places. The mode of transmission currently remains unknown though coronaviruses in general are typically spread like other respiratory infections such as influenza.

    Travellers who develop symptoms during travel or up to 14 days after their return from affected areas should put on face masks, seek medical attention and inform doctor of their travel history. Before departure, if you feel unwell, such as having fever, sore throat, muscle pain or cough, you are advised to seek medical attention and delay the trip until recovery. For further information on MERS, please visit Centre for Health Protection (CHP) website (http://www.chp.gov.hk)。

     

  7. Other infectious diseases

  8. Updating immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases in all travellers is strongly recommended. With the recent resurgence of measles and rubella cases, special attention is needed for both of these vaccines to avoid widespread outbreaks with this virus during Hajj and Umra this year.

    Men are required to shave their heads after Hajj, and unclean blades can transmit disease. Male pilgrims should go to officially designated centers to be shaved, where barbers are licensed and use disposable, single-use blades.

     

  9. Food hygiene

  10. Fresh food carried by visitors and pilgrims are banned and not allowed into the country. Only properly canned food in very small amount which is enough for one person to the end of his or her trip is allowed. In addition, diarrhea is common during Hajj, so eat only food that is cooked and served hot and drink only beverages from sealed containers.

     

  11. Injury

  12. Try to avoid the most densely congested areas and always be aware of the location of emergency exits. Pilgrims can perform rituals during non-peak hours to avoid crowds.

     

  13. Heat stroke

  14. Temperatures in Mecca can exceed 37.8 ºC (100°F) in October. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are leading causes of illness during Hajj. Pilgrims should drink plenty of water (bottled), wear sunscreen, rest, and seek shade as much as possible. Symptoms of heat-related illness can include profuse sweating, chills, headache, dizziness or confusion, and nausea. Travelers who develop these symptoms should move to a cool area and seek medical attention.

     

  15. Observe personal and environmental hygiene strictly at all times. For more information, please read the section on Travel Health Advice.
  16.  

(Source: World Health Organisation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Ministry of Hajj, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

 

Take precautions against dengue fever when travelling abroad

Dengue fever is an endemic disease in most Southeast Asian countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Travellers visiting these places are advised to protect themselves against mosquitoes all year round.

The recent dengue fever activity in Asia has been more severe than that of last year. Various popular tourist attractions among Hong Kong people including Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia, observed recent persistent increase in the number of dengue fever cases. Other neighbouring Asian countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan and India, also recorded rising dengue fever activities.

Outbreaks of dengue fever were observed in Brazil, Costa Rica, Columbia, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic in the first quarter this year. Peru detected its first local dengue fever case. It was expected that dengue fever activities will continue to rise in coming months in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travellers planning to travel in these areas should take precautions against the disease.

Cumulative reported number of dengue cases in 2013 *

 

Cumulative reported no. of cases in 2013

Source of information and
date of report

America
  Central & South


868,653


World Health Organization, 21 June 2013

Australia

841

Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing, 28 June 2013

Cambodia

4,464

World Health Organization, 26 June 2013

India
  Maharashtra


727


ProMED-mail, 7 July 2013

Indonesia
  East Jakarta

1,826

ProMED-mail 1 July 2013

Lao PDR

14,000

ProMED-mail, 7 July 2013

Malaysia

11,485

World Health Organization, 26 June 2013

Myanmar

6,448

ProMED-mail 1 July 2013

New Caledonia

10,318

World Health Organization, 26 June 2013

Pakistan
  Sindh


360


ProMED-mail, 7 July 2013

Philippines

37,895

World Health Organization, 26 June 2013

Singapore

12,795

Singapore National Environment Agency, 11 July 2013

Solomon Island

6,217

World Health Organization, 26 June 2013

Sri Lanka

15,777

ProMED-mail 1 July 2013

Taiwan

137

CDC, ROC (Taiwan), 25 June 2013

Thailand

59,000

National News Bureau of Thailand, 11 July 2013

Vietnam

13,903

World Health Organization, 26 June 2013

Remark:
* Dengue reporting systems vary by country.

Travellers should stay vigilant against dengue fever and adopt the following personal preventive measures against mosquito bite:

* Always wear long-sleeved clothing and trousers;
* Stay in air-conditioned residence or places with mosquito screens;
* If mosquito screen or air-conditioning is absent, aerosol insecticide and bednets are advised;
* Use insect repellents containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing;
* Use insect repellents containing DEET apart from applying sunscreen while staying in beaches;
* Carry a portable bednets and apply permethrin on it as well as to clothes if travelling to rural areas where dengue fever is prevalent.

Travellers returning from areas where dengue fever is prevalent should seek medical advice as soon as possible if they feel unwell and provide travel details to their doctors.

 

United Arab Emirates: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

The Department of Health (DH) is closely monitoring two additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the United Arab Emirates. According to the WHO, the 82-year-old male patient with underlying illnesses is currently in critical condition.

This brings the latest global number of confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome to 82, including 45 deaths.

(Source: The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health 14 July 2013)

 

Pakistan: Measles

A total to 21 710 cases of measles have been reported in the province Punjab, Pakistan. According to Health Department officials, at least 185 deaths have been reported so far, mostly in Lahore, Gujranwala, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Silakot, Faisalabad and Kasur.

(Source: ProMED-mail 14 July 2013)

 

Haiti: Cholera

The Department of Public Health and Population of Haiti indicated that the number of cases of cholera increased from 3357 in May 2013 to 4713 in June 2013.


(Source: ProMED-mail 13 July 2013)

 

Malaysia: Malaria

Sharp increases in malaria cases were recorded in Penrissen and Padawan in the Kuching Division of Sarawak state in Malaysia. For the 1st half of 2013, the number of malaria cases in the 2 areas rose by 75 per cent compared with the corresponding period in 2012.


(Source: ProMED-mail 12 July 2013)

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [Update]

The Department of Health (DH) is closely monitoring two additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). According to the WHO, the patient is a 66-year-old man with an underlying health condition. He is currently in critical condition.

This brings the latest global number of confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome to 81, including 45 deaths.

(Source: The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health 12 July 2013)

 

USA: Legionnaires' Disease

More than 12 cases of Legionnaires' disease have been reported across the metro Detroit area in Michigan, USA. Investigations were conducted to determine the common sources of exposure.

(Source: ProMED-mail 11 July 2013)

 

USA: Shigellosis

The Rhode Island Department of Health of USA reported on 9 July that 19 persons have contracted Shigellosis and had diarrhea after swimming at Spring Lake Beach.

(Source: ProMED-mail 11 July 2013)

 

Russia: Rabies

A fatal case of rabies has been recorded in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia. A local resident had been bitten during spring this year.

(Source: ProMED-mail 9 July 2013)

 

South Africa: Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever

A farmer from Mpumalanga, South Africa has been diagnosed with Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and was hospitalized.


(Source: ProMED-mail 9 July 2013)

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [Update]

The Ministry of Health of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that a new confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has been recorded in a 66-year-old Saudi male in Asir.

(Source: Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 8 July 2013)

 

USA: Listeriosis

A multistate outbreak of listeriosis was reported in USA and four states namely Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio were involved. Five cases including one death were reported. This outbreak was likely to be related to cheese.

(Source: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention 5 July 2013)

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome [Update]

The Department of Health (DH) is closely monitoring an additional case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). According to the WHO, the new case involved a 56-year-old woman from the northeastern region of KSA. She is a health-care worker with contact with a previously reported laboratory-confirmed case who subsequently recovered and was discharged. In addition, the KSA health authority has announced two deaths in previously confirmed cases involving two patients aged 2 and 53. This brings the latest global number of confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome to 80.

(Source: The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health 8 July 2013)

 

South Korea: Japanese Encephalitis

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a nationwide alert late last week due to over half of the mosquitoes recently tested in the southern port city of Busan were found to be carrying the Japanese encephalitis virus.

(Source: ProMED-mail 8 July 2013)

 

 

Last revision date: 16 July 2013