With today’s global economy seeing more employees travelling for work than ever before, employers need to be able to understand the potential health risks as efficiently as possible. Healix International, the international medical and security experts, provide monthly insight for employers through its World Health Reports.
The October report identifies a number of potential health issues for workers, with a particular focus on the risks for pregnant employees.
Rubella outbreak in Japan increases risk for pregnant employees
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. Whilst 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.
Rubella can be effectively prevented by the MMR vaccine that also contains immunisations against measles and mumps. However, throughout the West there continues to be a poor uptake of childhood vaccinations following unfounded fears over their safety. This has led to epidemics of measles, and rubella in particular, throughout many parts of the globe.
For those who are pregnant and unimmunised with MMR, travelling to Japan is strongly discouraged until this present epidemic has been controlled. Furthermore, as there is a Europe-wide measles epidemic at present, 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.
Zika epidemic in India a risk for those 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 are trying for a baby. 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.
The full Healix International World Health Report, October can be downloaded here.