After all our lives being dominated by Covid 19 for over 2 years, we are starting to dust off our luggage and heading off to new pastures once again.
It is interesting to note that a number of illnesses essentially disappeared while our borders were closed including influenza 2021, dengue fever, typhoid, malaria and measles. They are however returning towards pre-Covid levels as travel recommences.
Japanese Encephalitis has appeared on the east coast of Australia, in rural areas, for the first time. A rare mosquito borne illness with potentially fatal outcomes for some, it is more commonly associated with travel to Asia. As a result, vaccine supply has been kept in reserve to protect the local population at risk.
Monkey Pox has swiftly followed Covid 19 as an illness of international concern. As of this week there have been more than 40,000 cases globally. Just over 100 in Australia and only 4 so far in WA. Links below for current updates.
Because it has a very different mode of transmission to Covid 19, (mainly skin-to-skin or sexual contact), it is less infectious to others which limits its ongoing spread. It is generally a self- limiting illness with a characteristic rash with localised inflammation and a particular risk for the MSM community currently, although this may change over time.
It is a similar virus to smallpox, for which many older Australians will have been previously immunised and may have lingering protection.
There are vaccines for monkey pox, which are extremely limited in availability globally. They are currently being managed by the Health Department for those at extremely high risk.
Vaccination is not recommended for the general population or for the vast majority of travellers.
Other illnesses of note include a few unusual cases of diphtheria in a number of separate places including Switzerland, Reunion and NSW. An important reminder to keep your routine vaccinations up to date. Diphtheria is included with tetanus and whooping cough in a 10 yearly booster. Particularly relevant for travellers.