A recent communication from the WHO noted that there were more cases of Yellow Fever in Peru in 2016 than had been recorded in the past 10 years. Recent years have also seen outbreaks in Angola and Uganda in Africa. On the other hand, Rwanda has been taken off the Yellow Fever infected countries list, and Tanzania and Zambia’s risk has been downgraded.
WHO has also recently expanded the meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa, reflecting more widespread outbreaks. Rates of malaria are also varying from country to country around the world. West African countries continue to have the highest rates, but Sri Lanka has recently been declared malaria free. Vietnam is doing an excellent job in lowering its malaria rate, and many travellers going there no longer need routine antimalarial medications. With travel diarrhoea, a resistant bug, Campylobacter, has emerged in East and South Asia, and we have changed our recommendations for choice of antibiotic treatment in light of this.
All of which goes to emphasise the fact that health risks change not only with destination, but also over time. Previous travel to a certain part of the world doesn’t automatically mean the risks are the same next time you go there. It pays to check with an experienced travel health doctor before you visit developing countries, even if you’re an experienced traveller.
Dr Aidan Perse