On 4 June 2019, the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) immunisation web pages were updated to reflect the latest quarterly data on:
The annual flu report published by Public Health England (PHE) reports that Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 was the main strain circulating during the 2018 - 2019 season, with Influenza A(H3N2) circulating later in the season. Although low-to-moderate levels of flu activity were seen in the community, the impact on secondary care in terms of hospitalisations and ICU admissions was high. The report shows that the flu vaccine offered to those eligible for immunisation reduced the likelihood of visiting the GP with flu symptoms by approximately 44% during the season.
Flu is known to particularly affect older people as they tend to have weaker immune systems. The adjuvanted vaccine, which was given to the majority of adults aged 65 and over for the first time this season, was estimated to have provided approximately 60% protection against the flu strains circulating this winter.
Source: PHE, 30 May 2019
The World Health Organization (WHO) has made a statement on the outcome of the twenty-first meeting of the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the international spread of poliovirus.
The committee is gravely concerned by the significant further increase in wild poliovirus (WPV1) cases globally in 2019, particularly in Pakistan where 15 cases have already been reported, whilst in Afghanistan, the critical issue of access is seriously hampering progress towards global eradication.
The risk of international spread of poliovirus still constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and the extension of temporary recommendations for affected states have been extended for a further three months.
A news item was posted on Travax (for health professionals) advising of the affected countries and the temporary recommendations. Individual country recommendations and information about poliomyelitis can be found on Travax and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.
Source: WHO, 29 May 2019
A locally-acquired case of dengue fever on 24 May 2019 in the city of Rockhampton, has been reported by the Central Queensland Public Health Unit. The person has reported no overseas travel, nor travel to North Queensland, where dengue outbreaks occasionally occur. Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that transmits dengue, is present in some areas of Rockhampton, but this is the first locally-acquired case of the disease in several decades.
All travellers to regions where dengue occurs are potentially at risk of dengue fever and should be aware of this infection. Prevention relies on avoiding mosquito bites. Aedes mosquitoes are particularly persistent and bite between dawn and dusk.
There is no vaccine against dengue fever licensed for use in the UK.
For further information on dengue fever, consult fitfortravel (for the general public) and Travax (for health professionals).
Sources: fitfortravel and Travax (both 29 May 2019)
Public health authorities in Baden-Wuerttemberg have reported an increase in cases of hantavirus disease from 1 January 2019 to 15 May 2019. During this period, there have been 211 cases in the north, centre and south of the state, compared to 12 cases during the same period in 2018. Increases are known to occur in years when the population of bank voles grows due to increased food supply.
Spring cleaning garages, cellars and sheds is associated with hantavirus infection in Germany.
While the risk to most travellers is low, this risk is increased in areas close to rural forested areas and to rodent infested buildings. Those most likely to be exposed are campers, agricultural workers, building workers and soldiers.
Travellers should be advised of the risk of infection and take the following steps to minimise exposure to rodent excreta:
- wearing protective clothing, including face masks, when working in environments which may be contaminated with rodent faeces and urine
- ensuring adequate ventilation when working in such environments
- ensuring that accommodation that has been out of use for many months is well ventilated prior to entry
Hantavirus can cause serious illness in some cases, while headache, fever, influenza-like symptoms, rash back pain and kidney damage may occur.
There is no licensed vaccine for hantavirus in Europe.
Sources: fitfortravel and Travax (both 27 May 2019)
A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO Europe), shows that tobacco use remains a significant public health issue with an estimated 209 million people, or 29% of the European region population, smoking. Launched on World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), 31 May 2019, the report examines health impacts, prevalence of tobacco use and health systems’ response.
Source: WHO Europe, 31 May 2019
The theme for World Environment Day 2019 is ‘Take the Mask Challenge’ #BeatAirPollution. The main types of air pollution are identified as well as ways to mitigate sources of pollution:
- Agricultural activities producing methane and ammonia, and the burning of waste.
- Household burning of fossil fuels, wood and biomass-based fuels.
- Industrial pollution, primarily from energy production through coal-burning power plants and diesel generators.
- Transport producing carbon dioxide emissions, particularly from diesel emissions.
- Waste from burning and organic waste in landfills release substances such as harmful dioxins, furans, methane and black carbon.
- Natural processes such as volcanic eruptions, sand and dust storms that may carry pathogens and harmful substances.
Source: World Environment Day Global, 5 June 2019
Of the 86 designated Scottish bathing waters, 32% have been rated excellent, 41% good and 15% sufficient. This amounts to 88% of Scottish bathing waters having met environmental quality standards. SEPA’s locations page lists the 2019 status of all designated bathing waters in Scotland.
Beach users will have access to real-time water quality forecasts, and live information on any pollution incidents. This is achieved through water sampling combined with weather data to provide daily bathing water forecasts. The forecasts are available by 10am every morning by checking SEPA’s website, calling SEPA’s Beachline on 08452 30 30 98 or via live electronic signage at 31 designated beach locations.
Source: SEPA, 31 May 2019