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Travel Health News Digest (5 October 2009)

Advice for Travellers Planning to Visit Human Swine Influenza Affected Areas

Human Swine Influenza (Influenza A / H1N1)
The World Health Organization has declared the human swine influenza (swine flu) outbreak a global pandemic. Confirmed cases of swine flu have been reported in many parts of the world, including Hong Kong.

Human-to-human transmission has occurred in the present swine flu outbreak. The symptoms of swine flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain and headache. Some people infected with swine flu may also have vomiting and diarrhoea.

Advice
Strict adherence to personal and environmental hygiene is essential for prevention of swine flu. Department of Health reminds travellers to watch out for the latest developments in the swine flu outbreak when planning travel. Travellers should prepare adequate face masks and alcohol-based handrub and take the following precautionary measures:
  • During the trip: maintain good personal hygiene, wash hands or use handrub frequently and avoid contact with sick people.
  • Before returning: do not get on board an airplane when influenza-like symptoms develop. Put on a mask and seek medical attention where you are.
  • After returning: avoid going to crowded places and pay close attention to your health. Seek medical consultation from public clinics or hospitals right away if influenza-like symptoms appear.

The Government of the HKSAR requires each arriving passenger to complete a Health Declaration Form and return it to designated collection points.

Use of Anti-viral Drugs
According to interim testing result performed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, human swine influenza virus is sensitive to two antiviral drugs, namely Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir (Relenza). You should consult your doctor before taking these anti-viral drugs.

(Source: Department of Health, HKSAR, 22 June 2009)

 

Advice for Inbound Travellers/Returnees to Hong Kong on Prevention of Human Swine Influenza (Influenza A/H1N1)

The World Health Organization has declared the human swine influenza (swine flu) outbreak a global pandemic. Confirmed cases of swine flu have been reported in many parts of the world, including Hong Kong.

Human-to-human transmission has occurred in the present swine flu outbreak. The symptoms of swine flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain and headache. Some people infected with swine flu may also have vomiting and diarrhoea.

Advice
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government appeals to all inbound travellers/returnees to Hong Kong to observe the following:
  • While overseas, exercise good personal hygiene, e.g. observe hand hygiene and cough manners, and -
    • pay attention to announcements from the local government
    • follow local public health guidelines, including any movement restrictions and preventive recommendations
    • avoid contact with sick people
  • Before returning, do not get on board an airplane when influenza-like symptoms develop. Put on a mask and seek medical attention where you are.
  • If you develop symptoms while on board, put on a mask and notify the crew right away. The crew will in turn follow established procedures and alert ground control. Port health team will board the airplane to assess and follow up on landing.
  • Upon landing, accurately and honestly complete the health declaration form; or present yourself to the port health post stationed at all border crossings if you have a health concern.
  • After returning, avoid going to crowded places and pay close attention to your health. Seek medical consultation from public clinics or hospitals right away if influenza-like symptoms appear.
(Source: Department of Health, HKSAR, 25 June 2009)

 

Worldwide: Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 2009

As of 27 September 2009, worldwide there have been more than 340,000 laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 and over 4100 deaths reported to World Health Organization.

Transmission of influenza virus and rates of influenza-like-illness (ILI) continue to increase in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.  In North America, influenza transmission is geographically widespread and continues to increase.  Levels of ILI have continued to increase and remain above the seasonal baseline for the past 4 weeks in most regions of the United States.  In Mexico, a high intensity of respiratory diseases has been reported for two consecutive weeks (week 37 - 38), with large increases in cases being reported in the north and northwest of the country.  In Europe and Central and Western Asia, although overall influenza activity remains low an increase in transmission has been noted in a number of countries and continues to intensify in others.  Rates of influenza-like-illness continue to be above baseline levels in Ireland, parts of the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland), Israel, and France; in addition, more than 10 other countries in the region have reported geographically localized spread of influenza.  In Japan, influenza activity has continued to increase above the seasonal epidemic threshold since week 33.  These increases in ILI activity have been accompanied by increases in laboratory isolations of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 in most of these areas.

In the tropical regions of the Americas and Asia, influenza transmission remains active but the trends in respiratory diseases activity are mixed.  Although respiratory disease activity is geographically regional to widespread throughout the tropical region of the Americas, many countries have been recently reporting a declining trend (Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Paraguay, Venezuela), while others recently reported an increasing trend (Columbia and Cuba). In tropical regions of Asia, there continues to be an increasing trend in respiratory diseases in parts of India and in Cambodia, while other countries in the Southeast Asia have been recently reporting declining transmission.

In the temperate regions of the southern hemisphere, influenza transmission has largely returned to baseline (Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand) or has declined substantially (Australia and South Africa).
(Source: World Health Organization 2 October 2009)

 

Canada: Influenza

Experts in Canada found that people who get the normal flu vaccine are twice as likely to contract Pandemic Influenza (H1N1) 2009 virus infection. While the research was initially met with much skepticism from health officials, several provinces, including Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, have suspended seasonal flu shots for anyone younger than 65.
(Source: ProMED-mail 29 September 2009)

 

Mexico: Dengue Fever

In Mexico,1 408 cases of Dengue Fever were reported in Jalisco so far this year. This represented a 3-fold increase as compared with the same period last year.
(Source: ProMED-mail 28 September 2009)

 

Brazil: Dengue Fever

In Brazil, 964 suspected cases of Dengue Fever were reported in Dourados of Rio Grande do Sul state so far this year. This represented a 3-fold increase as compared with the entire year of 2008. In addition, Ceara state had confirmed 4 462 dengue cases so far this year.
(Source: ProMED-mail 28 September 2009)

 

Cameroon: Yellow Fever

In Cameroon, a confirmed case of Yellow Fever was reported in South-West Province. The patient was a 61-year-old man who developed symptoms on 27 July. As yellow fever outbreaks have occurred in different parts of Cameroon, the country carried out a national yellow fever preventive vaccination campaign in May 2009 for the population of 62 districts at high risk.
(Source: World Health Organization 1 October 2009)

 

 

Last revision date: 10 October 2012