Warnings over new traveller health risks to Japan and India

The latest World Health Report from Healix International, an international medical and security expert, notes rubella and Zika outbreaks could impact business travellers and globally mobile employees.

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Healix International’s October global health update identifies a number of potential health issues for employees operating in Japan and India. This latest report has a particular focus on the risks for pregnant employees and partners given the spread of the rubella and Zika viruses. 

Travel advice for pregnant women going to Japan

Healix International's report notes that the rubella outbreak in Japan is increasing the travel health risk for employees who are pregnant. An epidemic of the viral illness rubella has produced over 900 cases in the last 6 weeks alone, bringing the total in Japan this year to around 1,300.For most people rubella is a mild flu-like illness, it can be devastating for those who have impaired immune systems or for pregnant women, says the medical and security adviser. 
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Travel 'strongly discouraged' unless MMR vaccinations up to date

Although rubella can be effectively prevented by the MMR vaccine, which also contains immunisations against measles and mumps, Healix International notes “a poor uptake of childhood vaccinations in the West” has led to epidemics of measles, and rubella in particular, throughout many parts of the globe.For women who are pregnant and not immunised against MMR, Healix International is strongly discouraging travel to Japan until the current epidemic is under control.Furthermore, given a Europe-wide measles epidemic at present, Healix International says it is especially important for both women and men to complete their childhood vaccination programme before travelling. Unimmunised pregnant women should not travel to countries with on-going epidemics of rubella or measles.

Health advice for business travel to India 

India’s Zika epidemic is also a risk for business travellers and mobile employees considering starting a family, as well as those already pregnant.To date, 150 patients in India have tested positive for Zika, including 40 pregnant women. As is well known, pregnant women can be especially affected by the virus; a devastating abnormality of the growing foetus can occur called microcephaly; the result of severely compromised brain development.As Zika can persist in the semen of men for several months, male partners can also be affected if a couple is trying to conceive.As with all areas of active Zika transmission, pregnant women and those thinking of becoming pregnant should therefore reconsider their travel plans. Consulting a travel medicine professional is strongly advised. 

Timely health advice for employees on the move

This latest advice from Healix International recognises that timely and accurate medical and safety advice is increasingly important because more employees travel or work than ever before, and the impact this has on employers' duty of care.Healix International’s monthly World Health Reports are designed to enable employers to understand the potential health risks to their employees as efficiently as possible.Follow the latest developments in Relocate's Global Health and Wellness section.  
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