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Travel Health News Digest (12 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 4 October 2009, there have been more than 375,000 laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009 worldwide and over 4500 deaths reported to WHO.
In the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, transmission of influenza virus and rates of influenza-like-illness (ILI) continue to increase.  This indicates that there has been an unusually early start of the influenza season in many countries.  Geographically widespread influenza is being reported throughout North America, with the United States reporting ILI levels elevated above the seasonal baseline for the past month and Mexico reporting a high intensity of respiratory diseases for the past three weeks. In Canada, although overall ILI activity remains low, focal increases have been reported in the western part of Canada.
In Europe and Central and Western Asia, early transmission of influenza virus continues to increase in many countries, with more intense focal activity being reported in a few. National or regional ILI levels remained elevated above the baseline in parts of the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland and Scotland), Ireland, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Cyprus. In Japan, influenza activity continues to be elevated above the seasonal epidemic threshold since week 33, most recently in the large population centers.

In the tropical regions of the Americas and Asia, influenza virus transmission persists, however influenza activity remained variable. Geographically widespread to regional influenza activity continues to be reported throughout the tropical region of the Americas without a consistent overall trend (and increasing trend in parts of the Caribbean, and decreasing in much of tropical Central and South America). High intensity respiratory diseases activity was reported in Columbia, Cuba, and El Salvador, and moderate healthcare impact was experienced in many countries; two countries, Barbados and St. Lucia, reported severe healthcare impact. As influenza transmission slowly declines in many parts of South and Southeast Asia, several countries are reporting geographically regional spread (India, Bangladesh, and Thailand) or localized spread (Sri Lanka and Myanmar) of influenza activity; and most countries in the region have reported experiencing a low health care impact since late September.

In the temperate regions of the southern hemisphere, influenza transmission has largely subsided (Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand) or continues to decline substantially (South Africa and Australia).
(Source: World Health Organization 9 October 2009)

 

Indonesia: Chikungunya Fever

In Indonesia, a suspected outbreak of Chikungunya Fever affecting hundreds of people was reported in North Sumatra.
(Source: Pro-MED mail 8 October 2009)

 

Vietnam: Dengue Fever

Up to September this year, more than 58 000 cases of Dengue Fever with 44 deaths were reported in Vietnam. Out of which, Hochiminh City reported nearly 7 000 cases and Hanoi reported more than 6 000 cases.
(Source: ProMED-mail 5 October 2009)

 

 

Last revision date: 10 October 2012