Monday, January 31, 2011

55 percent of travelers needlessly put themselves at risk from a potentially fatal virus

A new survey of travelers who visited hepatitis B endemic areas, reveals that over 55 per cent of them were not vaccinated against the virus, which kills almost two people a minute.

More people are choosing destinations outside the Eurozone, such as Egypt and Turkey, where hepatitis B may be common. The survey suggests that many travelers are still not seeking travel health advice and so putting themselves at risk of a preventable disease.

Hepatitis B is passed on via blood and body fluids and can cause flu-like symptoms, jaundice and more seriously, liver cancer. Hepatitis B is a serious but preventable infectious disease. The virus can survive for up to a week in dried blood and body fluids and just a tiny cut or scratch can let it into the body where it can infect the liver. Hepatitis B can be easily prevented by getting vaccinated well before the departure date and can provide travelers with peace of mind for many holidays to come.

Official sources estimate that as many as 180,000 people are infected with hepatitis B in the UK, however the Hepatitis B Foundation propose that this figure may be as high as 325,000. Common in destinations such as Southern Europe, South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle and Far East, hepatitis B is a global problem that has infected about 2 billion people, 350 million of whom have chronic (long-term) infection. Worldwide, one million people die each year from the virus – that’s nearly two people a minute.

 The survey

The online survey was conducted by on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline ( during April 2009. The survey was completed by 3,000 travelers. 1,897 visited destinations in the last five years where levels of hepatitis B are considered intermediate and high by the World Health Organization. These respondents were questioned further.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

12 health risks in Thailand

Bangkok Post- Twelve key diseases and health risks will take the lives of almost 80,000 Thais over the next year, says the Epidemiology Bureau.

In recently released disease projections for the year ahead, the bureau listed 12 diseases and health risks, including influenza, HIV/Aids, haze, and chemical accidents, which it says are areas of prime concern.

They will affect 12.5 million people, and take 78,000 lives.

The bureau believes 10,100 new cases of HIV/Aids will be reported this year, and an estimated 205,350 HIV-positive people will need access to medicines. Up to one million people are likely to catch influenza, with 300 people likely to die.

Flu vaccination, particularly among those at high risk of infection such as health workers, the elderly, and those with chronic diseases could help reduce risk of the virus, Dr Pasakorn said.

Outbreaks of vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever will probably increase nationwide this year, with 70,000-90,000 cases forecast particularly in cities and municipal areas in the central and southern regions.

Dr Pasakorn said 300,000-400,000 people are bitten by dogs every year, resulting in 15 to 20 deaths from rabies.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Starlings Dead in Romania. Avian Flu? Nope- Alcohol!

BUCHAREST, Romania, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Dozens of dead starlings found in a Romanian city were not victims of avian flu, as first feared, but were the victims of alcohol poisoning, officials said.
Residents found the dead birds on the outskirts of Constanta, BBC News reported this week.
Authorities were notified out of concern they might have died from avian flu.
Romania has had outbreaks of avian flu in the past, including a March 2010 incident that resulted in some birds being culled.
However, local veterinary officials said the starlings died after eating grape pulp left over from wine-making.
Analysis of the starlings' gizzards showed they died from alcohol poisoning, the head of the local sanitary and veterinary authority said.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Flu deaths hit 50 this winter, Health Protection Agency announces

Eleven more people have died from flu across the UK, taking the total to 50, the Health Protection Agency has announced.
Of these, 45 died with swine flu (H1N1) and five with another strain, flu type B.
The deaths are mostly among children and young adults, with five cases in the under-fives and eight cases among those aged five to 14.
The release of the HPA figures comes as hospitals across the country begin cancelling planned operations to free up intensive care beds to deal with rising numbers of seriously ill flu patients.
Managers of hospitals in Newcastle, Manchester, Norfolk, Leicester and London have already declared they have had to put some elective operations on hold, including heart surgery. That list is expected to grow.
One doctor said there had been a "huge burst of H1N1 marching up the country" that was putting pressure on intensive care unit (ICU) beds, in particular those equipped to deal with patients suffering from respiratory failure.

There are only a small number of beds equipped with Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) facilities in the country, which acts as an artificial lung for such extremely ill patients.

Dr Jon Smith, in charge of the ECMO unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, told The Northern Echo: "I would say that from a national point of view we are very close to capacity most days."