• International Insurance Blog

  • Thursday, September 21, 2017

Technically, it isn’t an outbreak yet but there is a rise in measles cases across Europe. With the vast number of US travelers to Europe, it is of no surprise that measles cases are also increasing in the US. This is a major cause to get worldwide health insurance if you have any travel plans. At least with the inoculations required by international travel health insurance, you are not at risk of getting exposed and contaminated by the virus.
In October, London health officials pegged the measles cases at over 26 thousand and 9 deaths. In France, the reported number of cases for measles was 14 thousand. Most of the cases were isolated to young children which suggest that there was a misstep in ensuring children were vaccinated and given the booster shots.
Other countries that have reported a spike in measles cases are Spain, Macedonia, Romania, and Uzbekistan. These figures were confirmed by WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In the US, so far only 205 cases were reported for this year although the usual number is 50. Thus, it’s still alarming because of the sharp increase. All medical authorities have confirmed that the main cause is a failure to keep vaccination rates at 95% for the entire population. More than of the measles cases were experienced by patients who did not get the measles shots and/or booster shots.
Measles is very contagious and is an air-borne virus. You don’t even have to touch the infected person to get measles. It is especially dangerous for young children with a high death rate of 2 children in every 1,000 cases.

Not many travelers are considering the consequences of heat on their health. For those thinking of escaping the cold winter by vacationing in tropical countries, experts strongly recommend worldwide health insurance. Without protection from international travel health insurance, you may not get the best medical attention while overseas. In Africa for instance, there is a lack of doctors. This is because many have migrated to other countries for a better life.

While a safari sound exotic and enticing, being covered by the right kind of travel insurance means you get the kind of medical attention you’re used to. This doesn’t just apply to this winter but according to experts, the heat in tropical countries is expected to rise by 4 degrees Celsius by the time it gets to year 2100.

If you’ve traveled to these countries before, don’t expect the same kind of weather. It will be hotter. The usual symptoms would be itchiness, excessive sweating, exhaustion, blisters, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, body aches, and leg pains.

Even young people are vulnerable and can suffer from kidney failure because of severe dehydration. Of course, one has to stay out of the sun and be adequately covered. Drinking enough clean water is important. Just to give you an idea of the heat now in places like Africa: Africans who have to work outdoors usually carry 7 liters of water daily, and still they get dizzy or feel weak.  The effects of global warming will hit these countries first even if they did very little to cause global warming.

Our active World Health Organization (WHO) has released a warning that unless the global efforts to prevent viruses from circulating, a new pandemic will happen. In fact, with the rapid increase in travel, they feel that an outbreak is imminent. It’s for this reason that international travel health insurance is being promoted as an essential travel tool and not a luxury. At least with overseas health insurance, a traveler can get the immunization shots he needs and should he get infected with a virus while overseas, be attended so the virus won’t spread.

WHO is worried also of another animal to human crisis like the bird flu, swine flu or mad cow disease. They held a conference in Mexico City and invited more than 30 major countries to participate. The conference, “Health Risks in Human-Animal Ecosystems” which was just concluded aims to develop a global response system, similar to a more effective international alarm to prevent the spread of human infections from animals.

For Keiji Fukuda who is the WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security and Environment, it’s not about “if” it will happen but “when” it will happen. He says, “We do face the risk of another pandemic in the future. We know that the viruses which can cause influenza pandemic circulate in animals and then we don’t know when one of those viruses then becomes highly infectious for people and then spreads around the world. We also don’t know when something like that happens, which we do expect in the future someday, when something like that happens we don’t know how severe the effect will be.”

Washington has released a warning for parents about magnets found in adult toys or desktop items which children could ingest without parents’ knowledge. In 2009, there was only one reported incident. Last year, this number increased to 7 and this year, it’s expected to go up again. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says that families traveling to the US have to be careful especially with children below 15 years old. Removing the magnet will require surgery and without international travel insurance, it’s an expensive process. At least with international health insurance, you can have your children x-rayed before leaving the country if you suspect anything.
CPSC advises that these ball-bearing magnets are so small; it’s like taking a pill. The magnets can cause a hole in a major organ or lead to blood poisoning. If more than one is ingested, they can stick together and create a massive blockage in the intestines. Symptoms are flu-like or can mimic a simple cold.
Among teenagers it happens when they experiment with the magnets and pretend they pierced their tongues. They then accidentally swallow the magnets and avoid telling their parents for fear of a backlash. If a cold cannot be treated and the flu does not seem to be getting better, then request for an x-ray. 

Most countries in Asia are currently doing better than their counterparts in Europe and America. This has lead to an increase in the demand for international travel health insurance among Asians who travel abroad. It seems the tables have turned and now the top travelers are from China and India. Based on their support for global health insurance and a desire to see the world, they are contributing immensely to the global economy and spreading of wealth, so to speak.
However, one big problem as noted by the World Health Organization is a new tendency to prefer infant formula instead of natural mother’s milk. It’s the same for an increase in fast food diets as compared to home cooking. These are signs of progress but not in a good way.
The efforts of WHO to promote breast feeding has been compromised because of heavy advertising that appeal to new mothers. The promise of having a star baby or a genius makes new mothers turn away from breast milk to formula. WHO is urging Asian officials to prevent misleading ads that would be detrimental to the health of young infants.
The latest study shows that mothers who shift to infant formula show a 5.8 chance of baby deaths and illnesses in the first two months.  Influence from TV and radio ads have also shown that more mothers stop nursing their babies whether or not they can afford the cost of feeding infant formula or not.  It is perceived as the “more modern” method of caring for a baby.

When a report came out earlier this year about a link between autism and the measles vaccination, parents began to think twice about the MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) shots and booster shots.  Thus when an unvaccinated student traveled overseas, he ended up getting sick and contaminating 9 others when he got back. Without the shots and the international health insurance, the local government ended up spending $300,000 just to stop the contamination from spreading. If the student got booster shots as well as international travel health insurance, the results would probably have been different.

In the first place, the report linking autism to the MMR shots is unsubstantiated. There is no proof to this allegation or no study that can even slightly confirm the possibility of a link. The measles outbreak included having to quarantine almost 185 people who were believed to have had close contact with the student. The same situation is happening in Canada with an outbreak of 757 cases because of unvaccinated persons.

Over the years the MMR vaccination has significantly caused the incidents of measles to drop from 4 million to a less than 70 a year. Thus, the outbreak is cause for alarm and a warning sign for parents to think again about having their children given the MMR vaccine.

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