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Travel Health Blog

March 11, 2019


Influenza or ‘the flu’ as most of us call it, is a highly contagious and common disease. With the change of season, and the impeding flu season it

February 15, 2019

Summer influenza spike

There has been a spike in influenza (flu) cases during the summer months this year. While most of us would expect the flu to hit in winter, there can

February 12, 2019


Measles is appearing in the news almost weekly at the moment, with cases being reported around the country. The disease is appearing in many parts of

February 4, 2019

Protecting your family from Meningococcal MENINGITIS

  The new school year is just around the corner and with young children being in one of the most at risk groups it is important to ensure they ar

vaccinations for adults going on holiday

Summer influenza spike

There has been a spike in influenza (flu) cases during the summer months this year. While most of us would expect the flu to hit in winter, there can be cases all year round.
This years spike is unusual – in some parts of Australia the numbers have been 3 times what they usually are. Most of these cases stem from travellers returning from Asia and the northern winter, having caught it over there.

Influenza remains one of the most common vaccine preventable illnesses for travellers and this recent spike highlights how important influenza vaccine is for travellers, regardless of age and time of year.


Measles is appearing in the news almost weekly at the moment, with cases being reported around the country.

The disease is appearing in many parts of the world where for a number of reasons vaccination rates have fallen. This week Smart Traveller is advising of an outbreak in Brazil for example. This is not only the case in developing countries however but also in western countries and capital cities including New York, Paris and London.

It is mainly carried back to Australia by travellers so it is therefore vital that all travellers make sure they are fully vaccinated before they travel overseas, regardless of destination. The most likely group of travellers to transmit the illness are those born in Australia between 1966 and 1984. While it may cause severe illness in those age groups, the highest risk group is children under 12 months of age who cannot be vaccinated.

Make sure you and your family are protected prior to travel.


Protecting your family from Meningococcal MENINGITIS


The new school year is just around the corner and with young children being in one of the most at risk groups it is important to ensure they are protected.The results of a recent survey conducted has found that 50 per cent of Australian parents don’t know there are multiple strains of Meningococcal and just last week a child was hospitalised with Meningococcal B in Perth.

Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the brain (the meninges) and can be caused by a range of organisms including amoeba, viruses and bacteria. Meningococcal meningitis is one particular bacterial form that is very swift and very severe. There are many strains with five main groups that cause disease – A, B, C, W and Y.

It is spread from one person to another like a cold and although it is treatable with antibiotics, the infection can progress very rapidly. Anyone who experiences symptoms of the disease including headache, fever or rash, should seek urgent medical attention.

A combined meningococcal vaccine that protects against serogroups A, C, W and Y is now offered for free to persons aged 12 months to <5 years and 15 to 19 years.Meningococcal B vaccine is not currently funded by the state or national immunisation program but is available.

No single vaccine can protect against all strains of the disease, but different vaccines are available to protect against the most common ones.

It is recommended that you speak to a vaccination specialist to protect your family. For more information on meningococcal disease and vaccination options you can call (08) 9336 6630 or make an appointment at

Carnival 2019 – Rio de Janeiro

The Rio carnival is a spectacular annual festival, this year taking place from Friday 1st to 9th of March (local time). A feast of parties, parades and balls, considered the last celebration before lent,  there are an estimated 2 million people on the streets of Rio each day. With so much on offer to see, do and experience travellers from all over the globe come to be part of the excitement and spectacle.

As with other similar events where large crowds from different countries gather in close proximity, risk of disease is heightened just by sheer numbers. Those attending should ensure their baseline vaccines are up to date (particularly measles and influenza) and that they have a current Yellow Fever vaccination certificate. Other vaccines may be recommended depending on itinerary (ie hepatitis A) and  measures should be employed to avoid mosquito borne diseases such as dengue fever and, particularly for those contemplating pregnancy,  zika virus.


The magnificent Mt Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in the African nation of Tanzania. Considered one of the ‘7 Summits’ it is the highest mountain in Africa and also the world’s highest freestanding, reaching almost 6000m above sea level. Trips to Kili are often accompanied by side trips to see African game, such as in the famous Serengeti National park.

Reaching the peak of Kilimanjaro can be achieved by a number of different routes, varying in length. The shorter treks are usually cheaper but the longer treks allow more time to acclimatise to the altitude. Accurate figures of failure to reach the peak are difficult to find, ranging from 44 – 95% depending on the source but certainly the longer the trek the more likely you are to reach the pinnacle of the climb. Whichever trek you choose it’s important to make sure you book with a reputable and experienced tour group, be physically prepared for the climb and get comprehensive travel health advice before you leave.
With key climbing times being January to March and June to October, many people are preparing to leave soon. A discussion on avoiding, recognising and responding to symptoms of acute mountain (altitude) sickness are vital, with medication available to assist with its management. It’s a must that all baseline vaccines such as measles and tetanus are up to date and depending on total itinerary other vaccines may be recommended including: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A (almost certainly), typhoid, meningitis and rabies.

Meet The Team – Dr Rutherford returns from Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was voted the number 1 place to visit in 2019 and I can see why. Having just returned from a family holiday, it was nice to go ahead of the curve.

With a very pleasant tropical climate and distinct seasons dividing the two sides of the island nation, December in the southwest is dry season. Sri Lanka has an amazing variety of landscapes and climates; from the coconut palm lined beaches to the temperate high country in the middle, with fauna and flora changing dramatically as you go up into the mountains.  Historical sites to visit include Galle Fort, Nuwara Eliya and Kandy, as well as the numerous Buddhist temples throughout.

Despite some political unrest in Colombo, the people are extremely welcoming and friendly and the food is fantastic. We managed to surf, explore on scooters (avoiding the crazy local bus), climb mountains, visit tea plantations, see elephants and monkeys and cross the country on a very scenic old British railway line.

From a health point of view, food and water hygiene is paramount. Mosquitoes are everywhere except in the high mountains and being a Buddhist nation, dogs are everywhere,  so rabies remains a risk. Apart from some mild gastro, a chest infection and some coral cuts, we remained pretty well. The country seems to have good medical care throughout and public health is very important which is why it has been declared malaria free.

Loved Sri Lanka and will definitely visit again.

Dr David Rutherford


travelling over christmas

Xmas Opening Hours

With Xmas just a couple of weeks away many people are busily getting ready for overseas travel at the end of the month and in January 2019.

Travel Health Plus traditionally closes at lunchtime on Xmas Eve and and apart from a short  morning session on New Years Eve (for those mid vaccine schedule), remains closed to give our wonderful staff a well earned rest and time to spend with their families over the festive season. You will need to keep this in mind if you are planning to come back to finish off vaccine schedules or pick up a kit or malaria medication for example. Be assured we resume normal hours on Wednesday 2nd January.

Travel Health Plus would like to wish everyone a very safe and healthy Xmas and we look forward to seeing you next time you travel.



Japanese Encephalitis in Bali

There has been a lot of media attention around Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Bali over the last week. On further inspection we stand by our usual recommendations for Bali, which has not changed over many years. That is, mosquito avoidance is very important when visiting  anywhere in the tropics. This includes during the day as well as dusk, dawn and overnight. Personal insect repellent should contain DEET (30%) or Picaridin and should be applied to exposed skin.  Wear long sleeved loose clothing and consider soaking clothes in Permethrin in advance of travel. These simple measure will help protect you against a number of different illnesses including Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika all of which are more likely than JE.

What we do know about JE in Bali is that the vaccine was added to the local childhood immunisation schedule earlier this year for the first time and this was based on background surveillance of the illness. Children were vaccinated because they are known to be at higher risk of developing neurological complications of JE.

While JE exists across Indonesia, it was found to be more common in Bali. The illness is transmitted by a type of mosquito which lives in rural or semi-rural areas in Asia and is more common in the wet season, which for Bali is November to April. As we have stated previously the risks remain low for short stay, urban travel to Bali when mosquito avoidance measures are followed.

Vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis is possible but not necessarily recommended for everyone. Date of departure and length of stay are taken into account for example as the vaccines take a little while to become effective. However those of you who travel to Bali for short but frequent trips, may be at increased risk due to accumulative exposure. For specific advice in relation to your circumstance and trip, you need to make an appointment to see one of our travel doctors so they can work out what’s best for you.

View our web pages for more information on travel to Bali and Japanese Encephalitis.

Dr David Rutherford


Meet The Team – Nurse / Manager Paula reflects on crossing the road in Vietnam

Being a nurse specialising in travel medicine means having to keep up with international trends, disease outbreaks and emerging vaccines (among other things) and is a great excuse to attend conferences around the world. I usually try to spend a bit of extra time in the destination country and in 2014 was lucky enough to do that in Vietnam, after attending the 10th Asia Pacific Travel Health Conference  in Ho Chi Minh City. For those who have yet to experience crossing the road in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh is definitely a baptism by fire and not for the faint hearted. Traffic is heavy and moves constantly, so with no breaks and few crosswalks  to provide an appropriate moment to get to the other side the trick is to simply step off the pavement into the oncoming traffic, walking steadily and in a straight line so that instead of you avoiding the traffic, the traffic avoids you. I had had a few days practice prior to my friend arriving for a tour of the south with me and she was initially horrified when, instead of stopping at the kerb of a busy road to look right, then left, then right again (I had a careful Mum), I looked straight ahead and stepped off in front of barrage of bikes, buses, cars and motorcycles.

It is quite scary but I have to admit also a little exciting – part of the vibe of a beautiful city, rich in history and culture. With lots of things to see and experience up and down the country, Vietnam should definitely be on your bucket list.