A monthly update on disease outbreaks around the world, from our lead nurse JO THOMPSON. 

 

Measles outbreak in DRC:

  • UNICEF have stated that since the beginning of 2019, there has been an outbreak of measles in DRC with 90% of deaths in children under the age of 5 years old.

  • Due to the violence, lack of access to healthcare and vaccine and medical kit shortage in the worst affected areas,  which has rendered thousands of children unprotected and hindered efforts to stop the deadly disease from spreading. 

  • Travellers - please ensure that you have had 2 vaccines or if you have had the disease then you have life-long immunity.

  • More information on measles.

 

Lassa fever in Sierra Leone

  • As of 24 November 2019, 8 cases of Lassa fever have been reported, including 3 deaths. 3 cases have been laboratory confirmed and are all linked. Contacts have been identified in several other countries. 

  • Lassa fever presents a low risk to most travellers, unless they are living in rural areas with poor sanitation and overcrowding.

  • This is a viral disease transmitted via the excreta of an infected rat.  

  • Travellers returning from an affected area who develop symptoms of fever, malariase, headaches, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain should seek medical advice.

  • More information can be found here about Lassa Fever. 

 

Ebola in DRC:

  • Ebola began in DRC in August 2018 in the north east of the country.  As of 19 November 2019, a total of 3180 cases have been confirmed with 2197 deaths.  

  • The situation continues to improve, with the number of new cases greatly declining to a low level and transmission limited to few areas.

  • The risk to travellers is generally extremely low. 

  • Exit screening is in operation for travellers leaving Goma airport, DRC.

  • If you are unwell within 21 days post trip to DRC then get medical advice.  Call NHS 111 or contact your GP by telephone.  Mention that you have returned from DRC and may have a potential exposure to Ebola and include the dates and itinerary of your travel.


Yellow fever in Nigeria:

  • As of 17 November 2019, since the start of 2019, a total of 3620 suspected yellow fever cases have been reported. 

  • The outbreak of yellow fever started in September 2017 is ongoing.

  • Since August 2019, an upsurge of cases across the two northern zones has been reported. 

  • Also, suspected cases continue to be reported across all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. 

  • Yellow fever is transmitted by day time biting mosquitoes.  Rigorous bite avoidance is advised all the time.

  • Yellow fever vaccine is advised for all travellers (unless contraindicated).  

  • For further information see Yellow fever

 

Yellow fever in Venezuela:

  • In September 2019, one case of yellow fever was reported 

  • This was a 46-year-old male resident in Kamarata, Canaima National Park, Bolívar state. As on 17 November 2019, no other cases have been reported. 

 

Rift Valley Fever In Sudan

  • On 13 October 2019, a total of 10 suspected Rift Valley Fever (RVF) cases were recorded in Barbar and Abu Hamed localities, of River Nile State. 

  • Of the 10 suspected RVF cases, five samples were tested and four were found positive for RVF. 

  • From 19 September 2019 until 11 November 2019, a total of 293 suspected human RVF cases, including 11 associated deaths have been reported from six states. 

  • Rift valley fever is a viral infection that mainly affects animals but can cause disease in humans.  Humans become infected if they gave contact with sick animals and infected blood/tissue.

  • Most people infected have no symptoms.  Some develop flu-like illness 2-6 days after becoming infected.  This resolves without treatment over a week. <1% of cases can develop severe disease that may affect the eyes, cause meningitis or severe liver infection and bleeding that can be fatal.

  • TRavellers should avoid direct contact with infected animals and animal tissue. Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk and consuming raw meat and blood products. 

  • More information on Rift Valley disease

 

Information from Travel Health Pro, World Health Organisation, Travax and Fit for Travel and UN news. Compiled by Matt Edwards.