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Travel Health News Digest (14 September 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

In the temperate region of the southern hemisphere including Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, influenza activity continues to decrease or return to baseline.  Active transmission persists in tropical regions of the Americas and Asia.  Many countries in Central America and the Caribbean continue to report declining activity for the second week in a row. However, countries in the tropical region of South America including Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela are reporting increasing levels of respiratory disease.  In the tropical regions of Asia, respiratory disease activity remains geographically regional or widespread but the trend is generally increasing as noted in India, Bangladesh, and Cambodia.  In the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere activity is variable.  In the United States, regional increases in influenza activity are being reported, most notably in the south eastern states.  Most of Europe is reporting low or moderate respiratory diseases activity, but parts of Eastern Europe are beginning to report increases in activity.

 

United Kingdom: Escherichia coli O157 infection

There was a recent outbreak of Escherichia coli O157 infection affecting 36 persons who had history of visiting the Gladstone Farm in Surrey of UK since early August this year, 13 children were currently being treated in hospital and 4 of them were seriously ill.  Investigation revealed that the farm allowed visitors to see and pet a variety of farm animals and received up to 2000 visitors a day.  The source of the infection was apparently from the farm animals.  Health authorities reminded parents to follow strict hand washing with their families when visiting farms.
(Source: Health Protection Agency 12, 13 and 15 September 2009)

 

Afghanistan: Cholera

Afghanistan reported outbreaks of Cholera in the capital Kabul and 10 provinces across the country. There were so far 673 cases of the disease countrywide. No deaths have been reported.
(Source: ProMED-mail 13 September 2009)

 

India: Chikungunya Fever

In India, over 1 000 suspected cases of Chikungunya Fever were reported at various places in Madurai in the last one week. Patients complained of fever, headache, and severe joint pain.  Public Health officials had collected blood samples of 2 635 persons and sent for testing.
(Source: ProMED-mail 14 September 2009)

 

Papua New Guinea: Cholera

In Papua New Guinea, there was an outbreak of Cholera in 2 coastal villages in northern Morobe Province at the end of July this year, which gradually spread to 4 districts in the province.  This was the first outbreak of the disease in the past 50 years in the country.  The cause of outbreak was still under investigation.  Of the 130 reported cases so far, there were 12 deaths.
(Source: ProMED-mail 13 September 2009)

 

 

Last revision date: 10 October 2012