Listed below are countries with current health alerts for travellers. If you are planning a trip over the next few months, especially as School Holidays begin on 1/7/17, please take the time to read up on any disease outbreaks pertinent to the destinations you are visiting. These “Travel Health Alerts” have been resourced from the following reputable Travel Health and Medical Advice for Travellers websites -:
Travelvax Newsletters – 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd June 2017
World Health Organisation (WHO) – Disease Surveillance and Outbreaks – 7th June 2017
DENGUE FEVER – OUTBREAKS IN -: FIJI, MALAYSIA, INDIA, LAOS, VIETNAM, THAILAND, MYANMAR, NEPAL, PHILIPPINES, SRI LANKA, BANGLADESH, NEW CALEDONIA.
There have been increasing numbers of Dengue Fever cases reported in the countries listed above. Dengue remains a risk for travellers to most tropical destinations, regardless of where you stay or for how long. It is transmitted via two species of mosquitoes that generally breed in shady places close to houses and stagnant water supplies. These Aedes mosquitoes bite during daytime hours. There is no vaccine or preventative medication. Apply an insect repellent containing an effective active ingredient, such as DEET, (ie: Bushman’s, RID Tropical) Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, to exposed skin at all times when outdoors, In addition, cover up with long-sleeved tops, long pants, and shoes and socks around dawn and dusk, as well as other times when the mosquitoes are most active. Ensure accommodation is mosquito-proof.
CHOLERA – OUTBREAKS IN -: TANZANIA, SUDAN, KENYA
Cholera continues to cause problems in Tanzania and Sudan. There is a concern that predicted heavy rainfalls in these countries may further worsen the outbreak. Cholera is generally a low risk for most short-stay travellers and vaccination would normally be recommended for longer stays in endemic regions – particularly if an outbreak was occurring. Cholera is usually spread in contaminated water. Travellers should adhere to strict personal hygiene guidelines including vigilant hand-washing/anti-bacterial hand rub use and choose only safe food and beverages. For example – drink bottled water, do not eat salads from a salad bar, choose fruits that you can peel yourself, do not have ice in your drinks, use bottled water to clean teeth etc. There is an oral vaccine available – DUKORAL for protection against Cholera and E.Coli/ETEC infection (travellers diarrhoea). Please talk to your Doctor or Practice Nurse to determine if this vaccine is appropriate for you.
MUMPS – OUTBREAKS IN -: HAWAII, LOS ANGELES – USA
The Island of Oahu, Hawaii has reported a sudden increase in cases of Mumps – with close to 40% of cases reported in adults aged 18 years and over. Los Angeles County has also reported an outbreak with 40 cases reported. While Mumps is generally a mild disease in children, it can cause more severe illness in adults, including encephalitis (1 in 1000 cases) and permanent hearing loss (1 in 20,000 cases). All travellers should ensure they have had two “Measles/Mumps/Rubella” combination vaccines prior to travel if they have not had wild strain Measles and/or Mumps at any stage. Please discuss with your GP or Practice Nurse if you require any further information.
HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE (HFMD) – OUTBREAKS IN -: VIETNAM, MALAYSIA
Travellers with small children should be aware of the increase in Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in Vietnam and Malaysia. Both countries are experiencing record levels of this viral disease, which affects mainly children. Symptoms of HFMD include fever, oral infections, lesions on the hands, feet and buttocks. It is spread by direct contact with infected persons or with virus-contaminated surfaces. The disease mainly occurs in children and good hygiene practices will greatly reduce the risk of infection. Use of antibacterial wipes and alcohol hand rub will reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. There is no vaccine or preventative medication.
MEASLES – OUTBREAKS IN -: ITALY, ROMANIA, NORTH EAST FRANCE
The above countries and regions have reported rising numbers of Measles cases in recent months. Vaccination programs are currently being implemented to protect local populations from the spread of this highly contagious virus. Measles is a virus which can result in severe illness and even death. Regardless of your destination, Australian travellers should check their vaccination status and anyone who has not had Measles or has not received two documented doses of a Measles-containing vaccine during their life-time should consider a booster. If you are unsure of your vaccination status, please check with your Doctor or Practice Nurse. A blood test can be performed to confirm your antibody level of protection
INFLUENZA – OUTBREAKS IN -: CHILE, ARGENTINA, PARAGUAY, URUGUAY
Current Influenza (flu) outbreaks have been reported in the South American countries listed above. However, it is recommended that all interstate and overseas travellers, 6 months of age and over, consider having the 2017 Quadrivalent seasonal Influenza Vaccine. The vaccine protects against four different Influenza strains including two Influenza A and two influenza B strains. Planes, airports and cruise ships are common places for Influenza viruses to spread. Travellers should also avoid close contact It is free for a number of groups within the community. Please chat to your GP or Practice Nurse if you have any questions in relation to Influenza vaccine for you and your family.
YELLOW FEVER – OUTBREAKS IN -: BRAZIL, BOLIVIA
There are currently outbreaks of Yellow Fever Disease in Brazil and Bolivia, South America. Yellow Fever Virus is a mosquito-borne disease found in tropical and sub-tropical areas in Central/South America and Africa. Travellers planning to visit areas at risk of Yellow Fever should receive the Yellow Fever Vaccine (Stamaril) at least 10 days prior to travel. As this vaccine is a “live” vaccine, your GP must check that you are able to have the vaccine based on allergies, immune status and other medications you may be taking that may interfere with the vaccine. A Yellow Fever Vaccination Record Book will be issued to you upon administration of the Yellow Fever Vaccine, which you will need to keep with your passport whilst travelling. As of June, 2016, The Yellow Fever Vaccine is now a life-long vaccine. Regardless of when a patient has received the vaccine – it is now considered to be “life protection” from the date of administration.
REMINDER ABOUT THE 2017 QUADRIVALENT INFLUENZA (FLU) VACCINE
Just a reminder to all patients who have not had their Influenza Vaccine (Flu) for 2017 to consider vaccination. Current surveillance and reports show that there has not been a significant increase in diagnosed “flu” cases in Victoria in May and June 2017 – compared to last year. However, the main Influenza strain that has been identified is the “B” strain. Surveillance teams have deemed the current “flu” vaccine containing two “A” strains and two “B” strains a good match to protect against the circulating strains. To protect yourselves and your family, please consider having a “Flu” vaccine now – IT IS NOT TOO LATE!! The “Flu” vaccine should be considered by all people travelling both interstate and overseas, pregnant women, those with chronic illness, patients over 65 years, children from 6 months of age and anyone else wanting to protect themselves against this highly contagious virus. For some eligible patients – the Flu Vaccine is FREE!! Please see your GP or one of our Practice Nurses – Tanya, Susan or Karen, for any queries or concerns.
HAVE YOU HAD YOUR PNEUMOVAX (PNEUMOCOCCAL) VACCINE?
The following groups within the community are eligible for the FREE Pneumococcal Vaccine – “Pneumovax” – * All patients ≥65 years of age, * Indigenous Adults ≥50 years of age, * All adults who have a medical condition that increases their risk of Invasive Pneumococcal Disease. As the 23 different Pneumococcal strains contained in the vaccine are very stable and don’t change readily, there is no need for annual vaccination for the Pneumonia vaccine. Most patients will only require one dose for a lifetime however, patients with specific chronic illnesses and other “at risk” patients may need a booster vaccination of Pneumovax 5 years after their first dose. Please discuss any questions you may have with your GP or the Practice Nurses.
ZOSTAVAX (SHINGLES) VACCINE
Due to a higher disease burden and increase in numbers of cases of Shingles, a single dose of the live-attenuated zoster vaccine – “Zostavax” – is recommended for all adults aged ≥60 years who have not previously received a dose. Just a reminder to all patients aged 70 – 79 years, the Australian Government is funding the Zostavax “Shingles” vaccine for all persons aged 70 years with a catch-up for those aged 71-79 years until October 2021. As this vaccine is a “live” vaccine, there are a number of factors that need to be checked and assessed by your GP prior to vaccine administration. The vaccine maybe contra-indicated in some people and therefore, no vaccine will be given unless endorsed by your GP. Zostavax can be given at the same time as Influenza and Pneumococcal vaccines and at this stage, re-vaccination has not yet been determined. Your GP will be happy to discuss the Zostavax Vaccine with you.
ARE YOU PREGNANT OR PLANNING PREGNANCY?
If you are planning pregnancy, it is advisable to have your GP or Practice Nurse review your vaccination history. In particular, protection against Hepatitis B, Rubella (German Measles) and Varicella (Chicken Pox) is extremely important. If you do not have documented evidence of vaccination, your GP can order you a blood test to check your immunity levels to these diseases. If necessary, you can receive booster dose vaccines prior to becoming pregnant.
There are two vaccines highly recommended and provided FREE for pregnant women. Influenza vaccine (Flu) is funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) and can be given at any stage during pregnancy. It is particularly important for women in their second and third trimester during the Influenza season.
The second vitally important vaccine for pregnant women is “Boostrix” vaccine. Pertussis Vaccine (Whooping Cough) is a combined vaccine with Diphtheria and Tetanus. Whooping Cough Vaccine does not come on its own. It is recommended in the third trimester preferably between 28 and 32 weeks gestation. It is required for EVERY pregnancy regardless of the time interval between pregnancies as Pertussis protection is transferred from Mother to Baby via trans placental antibody exchange. This provides protection to the newborn in the first months of life – up until baby’s first scheduled vaccinations at 6 weeks of age.
Any adult household contacts/carers or individuals who will have close contact with the newborn – ie: (Fathers, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles) and have not had a Pertussis vaccine in the previous 10 years – should receive a dTpa (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis) vaccine at least 2 weeks before having close contact with the infant.
Information from Australian Health Dept – INVASIVE MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE NATIONAL SURVEILLANCE REPORT – 15th May 2017
Meningococcal Disease is a rare but serious infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria Meningtidis. The most common strains that cause disease are serogroups A, B, C, W and Y. The incidence of Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) fluctuates over time. Serogroup B has been dominant until recently however, in recent times, Serogroup W has been increasing and is the now the main serogroup causing Meningococcal Disease (44.5% of IMD cases have been identified as Serogroup W in 2016).
Notifications and rates of IMD, Australia, 2002 to 2017 YTD*, by SEROGROUP
Notifications of IMD, Australia, 2017 YTD*, by AGE and SEROGROUP
There are three types of Meningococcal vaccines available in Australia.
1. Meningococcal C vaccine is available as a single vaccine (NeisVac-C) or as a combination vaccine with Hib (Menitorix).
2. Meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero) is not funded under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) and is available on private prescription.
3. Quadrivalent Meningococcal Vaccine (A, C, W, Y) – there are three different brands – each with varying age group restrictions and funding for only specific groups.
· Meningococcal C Vaccine is provided free as part of the NIP for:
· 12 months of age (Men C is part of the scheduled Menitorix Vaccine – Men C/Hib)
· A Catch Up for anyone up to the age of 19 years who has not been previously vaccinated. (NeisVac-C)
· Not provided free on the NIP for any age group.
· Meningococcal B Vaccine (Bexsero) is available through private prescription from 6 weeks of age. Doses required vary by age.
· Recommended for Infants and young children (particularly 2 years of age and under)
· Can be given to older children and teenagers/young adults (15 – 19 years) for those wanting protection against Men B.
· We DO NOT stock any Bexsero vaccines here at the Clinic.
· It is vitally important that all children have Panadol 30 mins prior to any dose of Men B vaccine to reduce the risk of fever post vaccination.
· The Quadrivalent Meningoccocal A.C.W.Y vaccine is recommended for travellers to certain destinations where there is an increased risk of exposure (ie: Sub-Saharan Africa, The Hajj in Mecca).
· Anyone aged from 2 months and above can be vaccinated for Men A, C, W, Y. Different vaccine brands are recommended for different age groups and some brands may need to be purchased from the Pharmacy with a private script.
· We have some stock of Menactra (Men A,C,W,Y) which can be given from 2 years and above – cost $75.00.
· (Menveo brand only from 2 months of age – patients will need a script from GP for this vaccine)
· School based FREE program has begun in Victoria for Year 10, 11 and 12 students (15 – 19 year olds). Those not at school and who are within this age group can book in to our Practice Nurses for vaccination at no cost.