Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - Page 3 News List

CDC gives travel warning due to series of outbreaks

TRIP TO THE HOSPITAL:The health authority said that epidemics in Europe, the UK and Southeast Asia made it imperative to get vaccinated before traveling

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

People planning to travel domestically or abroad are advised to take precautions against insect-borne and viral diseases after several cases of scrub typhus were reported in Taiwan, while Southeast Asia, Europe and England are experiencing outbreaks of dengue fever and rubella respectively, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

The CDC said that as of Monday, there have been 147 confirmed cases of scrub typhus in Taiwan this year, one of which was fatal.

Scrub typhus is endemic to tropical and subtropical regions and is transmitted through the bite of chiggers — scrub mite larvae — carrying the Orientia tsutsugamushi parasite, the centers said.

The CDC added that while the mortality rate of the diseases is less than 5 percent if treated promptly, the probability can go up to 60 percent if the infected person fails to seek medical assistance.

According to data the CDC has collected over the years, the high-risk areas for scrub typhus in Taiwan include Kinmen, Penghu, and Hualien and Taitung counties.

People travelling to these regions are advised to apply insect repellent to all exposed skin and wear light-colored and long-sleeved clothing if they venture into dense bush.

For travelers going to Southeast Asia, the CDC warned them to be aware of the serious outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever currently afflicting the region. It said that the epidemic this year is so far proving to be a lot worse than those seen in the previous years.

“For example, Singapore has reported more than 10,000 dengue fever cases so far this year, which is already a lot more than the approximately 2,000 cases seen in the whole of last year,” CDC deputy director Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.

As of Monday, 107 imported cases of dengue fever and 71 locally acquired infections have been reported in Taiwan, 95 percent — 102 cases — of which were from Southeast Asia, the health agency said.

The CDC also urged caution for those visiting Europe as the region is experiencing a rubella outbreak exacerbated by low vaccine coverage and England is suffering the largest measles outbreak of the past decade.

The CDC advised people travelling to the region to visit a travel clinic two to four weeks before their trip to undergo a pre-travel medical evaluation and get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Those under the age of one or who have not completed the MMR vaccine regimen should avoid visiting Europe and the UK.

A total of four imported cases have been reported so far this year, three of which came from China and one from South Korea, the agency said, adding that three of the four infected patients were less than a year old.

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