Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Travel health warning as global outbreaks multiply

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday warned travelers heading overseas for their winter vacation to be on the alert after outbreaks of several diseases.

Reports of influenza in China, Hong Kong and North America; norovirus in South Korea and Japan; and dengue fever and measles in Southeast Asia have raised concerns for travelers.

Since the start of autumn last year, 68 people have been infected with the H7N9 strain of avian influenza in China and Hong Kong, which resulted in eight deaths — mainly in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces — centers Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said.

Meanwhile, seasonal flu is prevalent in the US and Canada, Chou said, urging travelers in these regions to wash their hands frequently and maintain good personal hygiene to prevent infection.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore has seen 2.7 times as many cases of dengue fever this year than it did up until the same time last year, which is 4.9 times the five-year average, he said.

There has also been a significant increase in measles cases in the Philippines, where 760 cases, mainly in Manila, have been reported since the start of this year, compared with just 10 cases in the same period last year, he added.

As for Japan and South Korea, travelers should ensure they are eating at restaurants with good sanitation, avoid raw food and unboiled water, and wash their hands regularly to avoid norovirus infection, he added.

Anyone showing signs of fever, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea or vomiting should inform quarantine officials at airports upon their return to Taiwan and seek medical treatment as soon as possible, he said.

Separately, an 86-year-old Chinese tourist infected with H7N9 bird flu, the nation’s second imported case of avian influenza, was released from quarantine last week, the centers said.

This year’s damage

‧ The H7N9 strain of avian influenza has infected 68 and killed eight in China and Hong Kong since last fall.

‧ Dengue fever cases in Singapore are 2.7 times that of January last year — and 4.9 times the five-year average.

‧ There have been 760 cases of measles in the Philippines this year, compared with 10 last year.

The man, from Jiangsu Province, arrived in the middle of last month and sought medical attention several days later.

He was quarantined after the H7N9 infection was confirmed on Dec. 31, and was released from quarantine on Tuesday last week after three viral tests showed negative results.

The release meant the man could now be transferred to other wards or hospitals following his attending physician’s evaluation and advice. However, he remains in intensive care due to his age, the centers said.

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