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With over 30 years at the forefront of travel health, MASTA is proud to bring you alerts and topical information from across the globe. Make MASTA your one stop shop for expert advice, leaving you concentrate on what is most important… enjoying your travels.

MASTA Travel Health Alert- 22nd February 2017


Media sources have reported 50 confirmed cases of chikungunya in Cotabato Province, Mindanao (S), Feb 17. Outbreaks were reported in a number of regions including Maasin, Leyte Island (C) and Indang, Cavite province (south of Manila), Sep-Nov 16.                  

Chikungunya (CHIK) is a viral infection spread by day-time biting mosquitoes. Symptoms may include fever and muscle/joint pain. Some people experience persistent joint pain and fatigue lasting weeks or months.


Large numbers of cholera cases have been reported to the WHO, Feb 17. No further information is available. Over 58,000 cases of cholera were reported during 2015.


Health authorities have reported over 250 cases (11 deaths) of cholera from Cabinda, Zaire and Luanda provinces in the north west of the country, Feb 17.


216 confirmed cases (1 death) of cholera have been reported from Maputo (S), Matola (S) and Nampula (NE), Feb 17.


Media sources have reported 28 deaths in an outbreak of suspected cholera in Davao del Norte (S), Feb 17.


Over 4,000 cases (57 deaths) of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera have been reported, Jan-Feb 17. Bay, Hiraan, Lower Juba and middle/lower Shabelle regions are most affected. A mass vaccination campaign is planned to prevent spread to other areas. Large outbreaks were recorded during 2016 with at least 15,600 cases (531 deaths).

South Sudan

An outbreak of cholera has been reported from Rubkona (N), Mayendit (N), Awerial (C), Bor (C), and Juba (S) counties with 4,900 cases (97 deaths), Jun 16-Feb 17.

Cholerais a bacterial infection usually spread through contaminated food and water in areas with poor sanitation. The risk is highest for those with limited access to safe water and medical care such as aid workers and travellers to remote areas with reported outbreaks. Symptoms include watery diarrhoea and dehydration. An oral vaccine is available for those at particular risk.


Health authorities have reported over 6,700 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease nationally, Feb 17. Over 79,000 cases (2 deaths) were reported in 2016.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a viral infection which usually affects young children and causes fever, mouth ulcers and blisters on hands and feet. It is transmitted by person to person contact. The majority of cases are mild but serious complications are occasionally reported.


Several cases of Hantavirus have been reported from Rio Negro (C) and Buenos Aires (E) provinces, Jan 17. 2 Swiss tourists were diagnosed with the illness after travelling along the Pacific Coast of South America visiting Ecuador, Argentina and Chile, Nov 16. Cases are reported annually from various provinces.


Health authorities have reported 24 cases of Hantavirus over the summer season, Feb 17. Cases have been reported in Biobio (C), Los Lagos (C), Los Rios (C), Aysen (S), La Araucania (C) and Maule regions (C). 2 Swiss tourists were diagnosed with Hantavirus after travelling along the Pacific Coast of South America visiting Ecuador, Argentina and Chile, Nov 16. An average of 57 cases (20 deaths) are reported annually in Chile.


Health authorities have reported 11 cases of Seoul virus in Wisconsin, Illinois and Colorado, Feb 17. Rats from several breeding centres tested positive for the virus, which is a type of Hantavirus.

Hantavirus is a viral disease which is primarily transmitted by contact with infected rodent excreta. The infection usually affects the lung and kidneys. The risk to travellers is low but it would be wise to avoid rodent infested areas.


Health authorities report a continuing increase in malaria, with over 240,000 cases during 2016. Cases have been reported from 16 out of 24 states, though the largest number of cases are from Bolivar State (S). The majority of cases are P.vivax which is rarely life-threatening.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease common in many tropical countries. It is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes which bite between dusk and dawn. Symptoms can vary and include fever and a flu-like illness. More serious forms can be fatal and progress to organ failure and coma within 24 hours of symptoms first appearing.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Ministry of Health continue to report additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Feb 17. 1,556 cases (648 deaths) have been reported since 2012.

MERS-CoV is a viral infection which affects the respiratory system and can be fatal. Human to human transmission has been reported including amongst healthcare workers. There is evidence that camels/bats may also transmit the disease. Travellers returning from the Middle East who develop a significant respiratory illness with fever and cough should seek medical advice. There are no travel restrictions.


As of 26th Jan 2017 the yellow fever risk area has been extended to include parts of the SW states of Bahia, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro. A state of emergency has been declared in Minas Gerais (SE). Over 1,100 confirmed and suspected cases (92 confirmed deaths) have been reported from the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Bahia, São Paulo, Tocantins and Rio Grande do Norte, Jan 17. Local vaccination campaigns have begun.

Yellow fever is a viral disease, found in tropical regions of Africa and the Americas. It principally affects humans and monkeys, and is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk is highest in rural areas. 15-25% of those infected will develop severe disease with organ failure, jaundice and bleeding. An effective vaccine is available but may not be suitable for everyone. International regulations are in place to prevent the spread of the disease and as such the vaccine must be administered in a registered ‘Yellow Fever Centre’ and a certificate of vaccination issued.


Health authorities reported the first confirmed cases of Zika virus in Brazil in May 15. Since then over 215,000 suspected cases and 11 deaths have been recorded, Feb 17. Most affected states are Rio de Janeiro and Bahia (NE). Nationally over 2,300 confirmed cases of microcephaly (a birth defect causing babies to be born with small heads) have been reported.


Curacao has reported over 1,200 confirmed cases of Zika virus, Jan 16-Feb 17.

Costa Rica

Over 6,000 suspected cases of Zika virus have been reported, Apr 16-Feb 17.

Marshall Islands

There have been 2 confirmed cases of Zika virus reported, Feb 17. 19 suspected cases were reported, Jan-Mar 16.

Puerto Rico

Since Zika virus was first reported in the country there have been over 38,400 confirmed cases to Feb 17.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is transmitted by daytime biting mosquitoes and is similar to dengue fever. Symptoms include rash, conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain. Neurological complications have been reported. There is consensus that ZIKV infection during pregnancy may cause some birth defects such as microcephaly. There is a low risk of sexual transmission of the disease. Countries/territories/areas with active or past Zika transmission have now been classified into 4 risk categories: high, moderate, low and very low, based on the current and potential epidemiological situation. These categories ensure travel advice is appropriate and proportionate to the defined ZIKV transmission risk. See current national advice from Public Health England for more details, including that for pregnant travellers, who are advised to postpone non-essential travel to high risk countries and also regarding condom use for preventing sexual transmission of the disease.

South Africa

33 tourists have been exposed to schistosomiasis at Witrivier (NE), Jan 17. The travellers have experienced varying degrees of symptoms.

Schistosomiasis is a parasitic worm infection that can penetrate intact skin when swimming or wading in freshwater lakes and rivers. Left untreated the worm eggs travel to the intestine, liver or bladder, causing inflammation or scarring. If exposed, screening tests and effective treatment are available.

Tags:Chikungunya, Cholera, Hand foot and mouth, Hantavirus, Seoul Virus, Malaria, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Yellow Fever, Zika, Schistosomiasis