Disease update

This item appears on page 22 of the May 2009 issue.

CHOLERA — Cases of cholera have been reported in all of Zimbabwe’s provinces and in many other African nations. From Aug. 26, 2008, through March 16, 2009, 91,265 suspected cases and 4,030 deaths were reported in Zimbabwe. The disease is spread through untreated sewage and contaminated drinking water.

MENINGITIS — Since January 2009, health officials in India have reported 230 deaths and 2,000 possible cases of meningitis in the northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram. 

Travelers should get a meningococcal vaccine at least 10 days before arrival. The bacteria that cause meningitis are spread by intimate kissing or living in the same home, not by casual contact or breathing the air.

DENGUE FEVER — At press time, 24 people had died of dengue fever in Bolivia. The outbreak was expected to peak in April with tens of thousands of people infected.

YELLOW FEVER — In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, on the southern tip of Brazil, eight human cases of yellow fever infection were reported from December 2008 through mid-March 2009. Five of these persons died. This is the first time since 1966 that human yellow fever cases have been reported in Rio Grande do Sul.

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to particular states in Brazil.