85 South St, Beaconsfield WA 6162

December 22, 2017

Merry Xmas from the Staff

The staff at Travel Health Plus are looking forward to the holiday period. Many of us are heading overseas to visit family and friends or to enjoy a m

December 1, 2017

Whooping Cough in New Zealand / Diphtheria in the Americas

We often forget why  our routine childhood immunisation schedule came into being, but be assured it was in response to significant numbers of cases b

November 24, 2017

Ross River Fever – Mosquitoes in WA

Mosquitoes are known as the world’s most deadly creature (common pub quiz question), being responsible for many diseases around the world . That in

November 16, 2017

South Korea Winter Olympics 2018

In February and March of 2018 the Winter Olympics and Paralympic games are being held in South Korea. If you are lucky enough to be attending, either

Merry Xmas from the Staff

The staff at Travel Health Plus are looking forward to the holiday period. Many of us are heading overseas to visit family and friends or to enjoy a much anticipated holiday. We would like to wish everyone a very safe and fun filled Xmas and  New Year. We look forward to seeing you in the clinic or somewhere in the world in 2018.

Whooping Cough in New Zealand / Diphtheria in the Americas

We often forget why  our routine childhood immunisation schedule came into being, but be assured it was in response to significant numbers of cases being reported – having a huge burden of disease on not only those individuals affected but also the health system as a whole. Some of those diseases whilst occurring rarely  have not disappeared entirely, but do remain vaccine preventable and highlight the need to keep your immunisations up to date.

In recent weeks in New Zealand for example significant numbers of cases of Whooping Cough (pertussis) have been reported; more than 260 cases over a 4 week period from mid October. Often it is adults who lack immunity, not having had a booster since childhood.

Similarly a number of countries in South and Central America are reporting increased numbers of diphtheria, Venezuela in particular intensifying its national vaccination program. Rare but highly contagious and potentially life-threatening, diphtheria was once the most common infectious cause of death in Australia.

All adults are recommended to check their vaccination status for baseline vaccines, particularly prior to travelling to developing countries where vaccination rates may be significantly lower than at home, resulting in greater risk. A triple antigen vaccine, providing immunity against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough is readily available.


Ross River Fever – Mosquitoes in WA

Mosquitoes are known as the world’s most deadly creature (common pub quiz question), being responsible for many diseases around the world . That includes at home here in Perth where there is currently an above average number of cases of Ross River fever being reported each week. A timely reminder to cover up and use insect repellent, even in your own backyard.

Spread by the bite of infected female mosquitoes, symptoms of Ross River fever include flu like symptoms (generally feeling unwell, chills, aches, headaches), joint swelling and stiffness and sometimes a rash. Symptoms develop within 7-10 days of being bitten and whilst most people recover in a few weeks, others have symptoms that persist for months.

There is no vaccine to prevent Ross River virus so try to avoid being bitten wherever possible, particularly during the peak biting hours of dawn and dusk. Wear loose fitting long sleeved clothes and apply a good mosquito repellent to exposed skin. Remove mosquito breeding spots around the home in such places as screen doors and windows.

South Korea Winter Olympics 2018

In February and March of 2018 the Winter Olympics and Paralympic games are being held in South Korea. If you are lucky enough to be attending, either as an athlete or a spectator it’s not too early to start thinking about staying healthy whilst away.

Whenever large groups of people from around the world gather together there is always an increased potential for diseases to flourish. All international travellers should make sure they are up to date with routine vaccines such as tetanus, measles and whooping cough, for which adults often require a booster. It will be peak influenza season in South Korea so the flu vaccine is definitely recommended. With large crowds expected there is more risk of airborne disease than you would be exposed to at home. Be aware that flu vaccines may be difficult to source between January and March, so worth getting one before the end of December. Hepatitis A vaccination is also recommended, and for some also Hepatitis B (the latter is now part of the childhood schedule so depending on your age you may already be immunised).

Pre-Travel Checklist

Overseas Holiday Checklist – What To Know Before You Travel

1) Book those flights

So, it’s all quickly becoming a reality. You’ve just stumbled upon the massive flight sale you’ve been waiting for. It’s finally time! Now, there is a lot of things to think about before you take off on a trip, and it can get stressful. But we’re here to help you along the way and think of all those often-overlooked things that could fly over your head in the excitement.

2) So, where will you be staying?

Do your research about the location you’ll stay in.  Where you stay can make or break your trip. Whether you’re staying in one place for the full length of your trip, or you’re planning to be bouncing around from city to city, research is always paramount for your enjoyment, and your safety. So, we suggest even if you don’t have a completely set-in-concrete plan, have a good flick through the internet at the areas you think you could end up and make sure you assess the safety of these places and get to know the local laws and customs in this area. We have heaps of information on places you will be visiting, so if you’re currently doing a bit of study, click here to find out more. Plus, a few small phrases wouldn’t hurt either! There are so many amazing places to stay in this world, so spend plenty of time of this one and we’re sure you’ll thank yourself for it later!

3) Always do some study on where you’re going

Find out more about the country you’re visiting and look for handy travel tips. This one is similar to the previous, but as well as focusing on where you’re going to stay, it’s also important to view other factors which could affect your stay. For example, is there any political unrest in the country you plan to visit? Is it isolated to certain areas or does it spread further than that? As we mentioned before safety is a key factor of your trip, because most of all you want to relax and be carefree, not worried about where you are. Another crucial part of your travel, as if your location is in its wet or dry season. This can make a big difference in the precautions you will take in your travels. There is heaps of information on the Australian Smart Traveller website which you can check travel safety, register your travel plans with the Australian Government and get some great information on insurance and emergency procedures, have a look here.

4) Do you need a travel vaccination?

Unfortunately, your friend who spends a lot of time on Facebook finding ‘alternative facts’ isn’t the most reliable medical source. Neither is your friend who says, ‘I went all over south-east Asia with no vaccination and I was fine’. At Travel Health Plus, we think you should leave it to the experts to see whether you need a travel vaccination for your upcoming trip. Necessary travel vaccinations will vary from trip to trip, are totally specific to the countries you’re travelling to but should be tailored to you, your personal itinerary and health status. It’s important that you have this in mind early. Vaccinations are best started 4-6 weeks before departure. If you are however booking a last-minute trip, it’s never too late. If you’d like more information about our services, click here, we also have a vaccination map, which you can see for yourself here.

5) Pack right for your trip

Packing is a crucial part of your trip, take too little, find yourself either having to buy clothes on the go or re-wearing some clothes a little too much. Take too much, you’ll either be throwing things away, or lugging around your over-packed bag every step of the way. Backpack vs suitcase? If you’re staying in one place, the best option is always a suitcase. Wheels make the world go around, and make carrying your luggage cruisy. Where it gets a bit harder is if you plan to be going to multiple destinations and will be going through airports and bus stations regularly. This is where we would suggest a backpack, but with a backpack comes responsibility. You should be super organised so you can fit in all necessary items without making it impossible to carry. Every item you put in, must have a necessary use. So no, don’t pack 15 different t-shirts because you ‘couldn’t decide’, or take two jumpers to a summer getaway because you might get cold. As well as your clothes of course, we always suggest you take a good assortment of toiletries, medicine, travel adapters, sunscreen, hats, weather appropriate clothing, and some good sturdy shoes which will last! Depending on location, insect repellent and alcohol hand sanitiser gel will be a saviour along the way. Oh, and one more thing, a first aid kit, which you can grab from us here. Make sure you also decide whether you’ll be taking cash to be exchanged, a travel card or just your regular credit card and you get money changed prior to departure, activate your travel card or notify your bank of your travel.

6) 24 hours before you leave

Last minute checklist. It’s coming down to the final few hours before you take off on your new adventure! But this is the time to get all your ducks in a row and make sure you’re set and ready to go. First off, we suggest you have all your travel documents for flights, buses, trains, hotels and so on printed and stored safely, as well as the most important thing, PASSPORT! A travel wallet is always a great way to store these bits and pieces, and always remember a pen, it’ll come in handy and stop you from awkwardly leaning across the aisle to borrow someone else’s. A key component which can be forgot along the way is of course your chargers and your headphones for a much more pleasant flying experience. A book or two can also curve boredom and we suggest a travel journal so you can log your thoughts in a physical form to look back at later. Also, if you got a travel SIM, make sure it’s loaded up and ready to go to so when you arrive you’ll be ready to go. Next, always have a good friend or family member locked in for the all-important airport drop off, timing there is crucial, so it’s always good to be a little early and eat an expensive sandwich. By now, it’s good to have your money exchanged and make sure all your travel cards are activated and ready to go, but you can always do this at the airport if you forgot!

7) Off we go!

You’re now on your way to your destination with a smile on your face! Happy travelling and as always, stay safe! Got some more questions? That’s normal, head over to our FAQ’s to see if someone else has been thinking the same thing here.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow Fever remains as relevant to travellers today as it was back in the 1700’s when it was first described. There was a documented outbreak in Philadelphia (US) in 1793 resulting in 5000 deaths. It was later blamed for the abandonment of the first attempt by the French to build the Panama canal in the late 1880’s due to the death of more than 50000 workers from liver failure and yellow jaundice, thus leading to its name. Once it was discovered to be transmitted by mosquito bites and control measures put in place, death rates dropped and construction was finally completed over 100 years later in 1903.

A vaccine for Yellow Fever was developed in 1951 and soon after the WHO instilled controls for border crossings to stop the spread of the disease. These controls are still in place today and travellers to parts of South America and Central Africa are required to show a certificate on entry and exit, both to protect themselves and others. To a greater extent this control has been successful in preventing spread to other areas but especially to Asia.

Two recent large scale outbreaks have put pressure on vaccine availability. One in Angola and one in Brazil more recently have reminded us how important this illness can be.

Recent changes from the WHO have recommended that the vaccine provides lifelong protection which is good news for travellers. It also highlights how important it is to keep the certificate safe.

The vaccine has a very good safety record over decades. There are some travellers who should not be given the vaccine because of other health issues or medications. There are also known rare but significant side effects mainly in older travellers, which means that the decision to vaccinate can sometimes be tricky. It should be used carefully by doctors specialised in Travel Medicine who have experience in giving the vaccine.

A recent discovery of monkeys affected by the virus in Sao Paulo state, Brazil,  has resulted in the closure of some national parks and WHO is now recommending vaccination for travellers to the city of Sao Paulo.

Dr David Rutherford

Which Insect Repellent is Best?

How do you know which insect or mosquito repellent is the the best?

An excellent question! There are a number of insect repellents on the market but for most of them little science to back up their claims of effectiveness. You probably all have a favourite that you claim works a charm, but the consequences of being bitten in your back garden pale in significance to the implications of being bitten by a mosquito carrying malaria, Zika or Dengue (just to name a few). The following personal insect repellents however have been proven scientifically to work and as such we feel comfortable recommending them.

DEET containing repellents are the most popular and effective. Strength varies from below 10% up to 80%. However contrary to expectation, strongest is not necessarily best and duration of effectiveness levels off at around 50%. Whilst there is a theoretical risk of toxicity with repeated application of very high strength repellents, DEET at 30% is safe and effective. We recommend and stock a 30% strength product called Repel, which is reapplied every 4-6 hours, is relatively water resistant, and approved for use in children as young as 2 months of age. Lower concentrations of DEET can be found in other products such as RID and Repel Jnr, but need applying at least 2 hourly.

Sensitivity to DEET is rare, but if it occurs Picaridin is the main alternative. Relatively new to the Australian market, repellents containing Picaridin are not always easy to find but we do stock a couple of brands for those that prefer it. Oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are also agents that have been proven effective, but are not readily accessible in Australia at this time.

Quick Tip: Although you can buy products that contain both insect repellent and sunscreen, we generally recommend buying a good brand of each. Apply your sunscreen first and then your insect repellent 30 minutes later.

Dr Beilin holidays in Borneo

Last week our family returned from a 1 week whirlwind trip to tropical Borneo. A direct flight once a week on Sundays to Sabah ( Malaysian Airlines ) makes this an easy trip from Perth. Highlights in Kota Kinabalu included snorkelling on the islands offshore and wandering the old city markets. A short flight to Sandakan provided the starting point of a 3 day tour with Borneo Ecotours – my wife and I had previously done a similar tour 20 years ago (before kids) with the same company, and had always wanted to return to show my 2 girls the natural wonders of the Borneo rainforest, before they completely disappear to rampant palm plantations.

Our first day was spent visiting the orang utan and sun bear sanctuaries, followed by a 1 hour drive to a proboscis monkey feeding area where a large group of marauding giant nosed monkeys fought, preened and fed, to the delight of the kids. That night included a jungle walk with torches to spot giant insects, tiny frogs and nocturnal tropical birds. The next day we took a 2 hour drive to Gomatong bat cave which is well worth a visit, but the kids ran /screamed the whole way through, as the ground crawls with cockroaches and the place reeks of bat poo (a 10m high mound of the stuff). From Gomatong we headed to Sukau lodge on the Kinabatangan River for sunset and misty morning cruises in a small motorised boat, to view troupes of various monkeys, hornbills and kingfishers in the wild. Unfortunately no pigmy elephants or leopards spotted, but lots of great photo opportunities.  On our final day we returned to Sandakan for a look at the Australian war memorial, sited at the camp where thousands of Australians were interred by the Japanese during WWII – a sombre experience to end a great trip.

Dr Raphael Beilin

The Plague

There are many diseases around the world that pose an insignificant risk (thankfully) to the average tourist. Occasionally however there is an isolated outbreak of a disease that whilst affecting the local population, may also be of concern for specific groups of travellers. Plague is one disease that comes to mind, with a current outbreak in Madagascar.

The history of plague outbreaks makes for interesting reading. The Black Death is the term often applied to the bubonic plague pandemic that hit medieval Europe and by mid-1348 had found its way to Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and London, resulting in millions of deaths. A subsequent pandemic that started in China in 1855 was considered to still be active until as late as 1955 (as per the World Health Organisation). These days human plague cases can still be found around the world, including the United States, but since the early 1990’s most cases are found in Africa.  Plague is transmitted to humans through contact with infected fluid and tissues, via infectious droplets (pneumonic plague) but most often through the bites of infected fleas. Rats are the common carrier of these fleas, thus aiding in the disease spread.

Prevention centres around flea and rat avoidance, wearing of gloves if handling or skinning potentially infected animals and the use of DEET containing repellents on skin and clothing, particularly if involved in outdoor activities in infected areas. Avoid contact with animals that roam free such as street dogs, as these may carry infected fleas.

Thankfully, although plague is  a very serious illness that still results in deaths each year, it is treatable with commonly available antibiotics, with early detection and treatment providing the best outcomes for recovery.

If you are looking for more information on plague, please check out the CDC web site https://www.cdc.gov/plague


Travellers cautioned to be wary of Rabies

With winter well and truly here and school holidays just around the corner, West Aussies are flocking to warmer weather and doctors are urging travellers to think more about the deadly and preventable infection – rabies – next time they are abroad.

Rabies is one of the oldest, most feared human infections; once symptoms appear, rabies has the highest fatality rate, virtually 100%, of any known human infection and is something which can be easily avoided.

Dr Aidan Perse from Travel Health Plus says many travellers don’t even think about rabies when they are travelling overseas despite the fatal consequences of contracting the infection.

“We see on average one to two people a week for rabies treatment, which is not only a huge cost to our state government, it is something which can be easily prevented through education and awareness.”

“With so many people heading to warmer destinations, such as Asia over winter, it’s important they know to stay away from stray animals – no matter how friendly they appear. Don’t coax them to come near you for food or selfies – it’s just not worth the risk,” said Dr Perse.

Travel Health Plus recently treated a patient, Robert May, who had been holidaying in Bali and noticed a stray dog while out and about with his granddaughter. When he turned his back to the puppy, it bit him on the back of the calf prompting the patient to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent rabies.

“If I knew more about rabies, I would have known the high risk of going near the dog and reassessed my options. Once symptoms appear there is no cure, which is obviously really serious, and I think this needs to be made more publicly aware.” said Mr May.

Travel Health Plus urge patients of higher risk such as those who may be working closely with animals, anyone moving overseas or travelling for extended periods of time, and those travelling in remote locations to seek the rabies vaccine prior to heading overseas as medical advice and treatment may not readily be available if they’re exposed.

Smart travelling and planning can easily prevent travellers being exposed to this dangerous infection, avoiding contact with bats and monkeys could help mitigate potentially serious health risks.

Dr Aidan Perse says it’s important for travellers to have a consultation with a travel health clinic a couple of months prior to departing. This will ensure that the specific travel itinerary is reviewed and the necessary vaccines and preventative education are delivered.

If you are planning on heading overseas, book your appointment with Travel Health Plus on (08) 9336 6630.