Ebola – the signs and symptoms

EVD is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory.

The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.


Other diseases that should be ruled out before a diagnosis of EVD can be made include:  malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis, cholera, leptospirosis, plague, rickettsiosis, relapsing fever, meningitis, hepatitis and other  viral haemorrhagic fevers.

Ebola virus infections can be diagnosed definitively in a laboratory through several  types of tests:

  • antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • antigen detection tests
  • serum neutralization test
  • reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
  • electron microscopy
  • virus isolation by cell culture.

Samples from patients are an extreme biohazard risk; testing should be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.

SOURCE : World Health Organisation

Ebola outbreak: Royal Air Force ‘on standby’

The Royal Air Force’s Infection Prevention Control Team is likely to be placed on standby to collect UK citizens and return them to Britain in quarantine conditions if they are infected with Ebola reports the Telegraph Online

The Royal Air Force could be called in to bring back UK citizens infected with the deadly Ebola disease from West Africa.

David Cameron has said that Ebola outbreak is a ‘very serious threat’ to the UK and the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, is preparing to chair an emergency meeting today on how to tighten Britain’s defences against the virus.

Major Thomas Fletcher, of the Royal Army Medical Corps said it was likely the meeting would discuss putting the military on alert to ‘repatriate’ Britons infected with the disease.

The Royal Air Force’s Infection Prevention Control Team is likely to be placed on standby to collect UK citizens and return them to Britain in quarantine conditions.

The ‘Deployable Air Transportable Isolator Team’ is made up of military doctors and specialists from the London Royal Free Hospital.

The team was last deployed in 2012 and has been used five times over-all for the repatriation of 3 suspected cases of Lassa fever, 1 suspected case of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, and 1 case of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Major Fletcher, a consultant on infectious diseases who has been seconded to the World Health Organisation to help with the outbreak, said: “The UK has a close relationship with West Africa and there will be British citizens in those countries.

“The COBRA meeting is probably discussing the possibility of the Royal Air Force offering assistance to UK nationals aboard who may become infected and who need to be repatriated.

“There is no doubt about it that this outbreak is going to last for many months so it is a big deal. It is the largest and most complicated outbreak we have ever seen and it is clearly not under control yet.

“With the advent of global travel there is increasing risk of importing Ebola into the UK.

“The main risk is of contact with an Ebola sufferer who has the disease but hasn’t begun to show symptoms. There is also a risk from healthcare workers coming back.

“That is why the passenger who died in Nigeria is clearly a concern as it is highly likely he was infectious during the flights he took and potentially there are people out there who are also now infected. “

The disease, which can be fatal for up to 90 per cent of infected victims, has now killed more than 670 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Public Health England has issued an urgent warning to British doctors to watch for signs of the lethal disease after an infected man was allowed to travel through an international hub. They said the virus was ‘clearly not under control.’

The government’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport has said that the increasingly ‘interconnected’ world was placing Britons at risk.

Another health expert has warned could spread to Britain in the same way that AIDS did in the 1980s, a health expert has warned.

Dr Derek Gatherer, a specialist in the evolution of viruses from Lancaster University, warned that the virus was as easy to catch as flu and passengers on flights from infected areas risked catching the deadly disease.

American Patrick Sawyer died in Lagos, Nigeria, after being allowed on several flights despite showing symptoms of the disease.

The airline he flew with his attempting to contact dozens of passengers who came into contact with Mr Sawyer over fears they may also be infected.

Dr Gatherer said that those passengers could be ‘anywhere else in the world now.’

“Aids spread from Central Africa to the western world in the 1980s – Ebola could do the same,” he said.

“Anyone on the same plane could have become infected because Ebola is easy to catch. It can be passed on through vomiting, diarrhoea or even from simply saliva or sweat – as well as being sexually transmitted.

“That is why there is such alarm over Mr Sawyer because he became ill on the flight so anyone else sharing the plane could have been infected by his vomit or other bodily fluids.

“Only about 10 per cent recover. The outlook is pretty bleak. They will need to trace everyone on the passenger list and isolate them as a precaution.

“I believe they have contacted about half so far but the others could be anywhere else in the world now.”

Two Britons have already been tested for the disease in London and Birmingham after reporting symptoms, but neither had the disease.

Mr Hammond said no British national so far had been affected by the outbreak, and there had been no cases in the UK but he would be chairing the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee later today to assess the situation.

“As far as we are aware, there are no British nationals so far affected by this outbreak and certainly no cases in the UK. However the Prime Minister does regard it as a very serious threat and I will be chairing a Cobra meeting later today to assess the situation and look at any measures that we need to take either in the UK, or in our diplomatic posts abroad in order to manage the threat,” he told Sky News.

“We are very much focused on it as a new and emerging threat which we need to deal with.”

Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks – in Nzara, Sudan; and in Yambuku, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter was in a village situated near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

It is introduced into the human population through close contact with the sweat, blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines.

The virus then spreads in the community through human-to-human transmission.

Symptoms begin with fever, muscle pain and a sore throat, then rapidly escalate to vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding. The incubation period can be up to 21 days.

SOURCE : The Telegraph Online

ALC Health shortlisted in five categories at this year’s COVER Excellence Awards

2014-Cover-Excellence-AwardsWe’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to vote for us in this year’s COVER Excellence Awards, where we have managed to be shortlisted in no less than five separate categories.

As you can image, we are absolutely delighted. We know we couldn’t have done it without your support which has allowed us to provide you and your clients with a unique range of products supported by a truly VIP service experience that has become our hallmark.


Best Service, Group PMI, Individual PMI, International
PMI and Specialist/ Innovative Product of the Year.


Travel abroad without Insurance at your peril

Compass-11.jpgPolicies help more than 4,300 people a week who need medical treatment while abroad

Travel insurance helps over 4,300 people a week who need medical treatment while they are abroad, but a fifth (19%) of all Brits risk travelling abroad uninsured, data shows.

The figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that in 2013 the average claim for emergency medical treatment was £930.

Travel insurers pay out an average of £4m every week to cover medical costs.

Aidan Kerr, head of travel insurance at the ABI, said: “No one expects to go holiday and have to make a claim on their travel insurance. However, unfortunately for many travellers, having something go wrong can be a very real experience. It can be especially traumatic when you or someone you are travelling with is taken ill or injured.” reports the Health Insurance Daily

The ABI said people travelling in Europe must have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which allows them to receive emergency treatment from public hospitals across Europe.

It also said consumers should shop around for the best deal but should not buy a policy based on price alone as it might not cover all of their needs.

The world’s best countries to retire to in 2014

parisThere is a wide belief that expats are career-driven youngsters, passionate adventure seekers and important business leaders. However, a significant chunk of the expatriate community is also made up of retirees. Those who have worked hard and are now looking to move to sunnier and peaceful locations abroad, to enjoy the rest of their lives.

A number of factors need to be considered when seeking out which country is best for retirement. Climate and the cost and quality of living is what is most instantly thought about, but looking at the healthcare system is equally as important. Here are the top countries with the best healthcare systems according to IL’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2014, all ranking with 90 points and above.

  • France – 97 points – The country is renowned for the quality of its healthcare. It is always at the forefront of pioneering research, with fantastic hospitals and a high life expectancy rate. Even international medical insurance companies advice that expats choosing to live in France permanently, should join the national state health insurance. The CMU scheme is a popular option with any pre-existing conditions being disregarded. Expat retirees who have the E121/S1 are eligible from the start.
  • Uruguay – 96 points – Quality healthcare is available to all in Uruguay. There is a free public system that all residents are eligible for. The free clinics can be crowded but also ensures that those who do not have health insurance still have the basic cover. Every town is privy to this and assures that no one is left without quality cover. The private health system is well-equipped and inexpensive, of which an estimated 50% of the population enjoy. Each private healthcare organisation has its own standards for accepting new members, including age.
  • Malaysia – 95 points – The country is famed for its quality healthcare and the cheap cost. The staff are well trained and facilities are modern. There is a comprehensive range of healthcare services but foreigners cannot access the free public healthcare system. This shouldn’t be a problem however, as health insurance is extremely low in cost and can actually be paid out of pocket. However, age is a factor when considering annual premiums.
  • Costa Rica – 94 points – Costa Rica is known for its constant advancement in the public and private sector healthcare systems. Private healthcare is affordable and of high quality. Free medical services can sometimes be quite long and overcrowded but still works well for the residents. Expats becoming legal residents can join the CCSS and get free treatment for virtually everything, all at a small monthly fee.
  • Mexico and Portugal – 93 points – The countries’ healthcare systems includes a big universal health insurance programme as well as small private ones. There are an abundance of high quality hospitals and health insurance in both countries is relatively cheap. The cost of medical care will depend on the condition and the hospital.  Portuguese healthcare is available to legal residents of the country with their local healthcare. Basic cover is provided but additional insurance may be a good idea to cover any additional needs.
  • Spain and Panama – 91 points – The standard of hospitals and clinics in the Spain have been compared to the NHS. Private medical cover is advised and is usually set up in advance but registering with the local authority when you arrive is also crucial as it gives you the same healthcare rights as Spanish residents. In Panama, the quality of healthcare is high in the cities but not so much in rural areas. Private health insurance is very cheap as are prescription drugs.
  • Colombia, Thailand and Brazil – Hospitals in Colombia are of good quality and the staff are well trained and often English-speaking. Private medical insurance is advised on top of the national healthcare plan. The health system in Thailand consists of the private medical sector and the non-profit sector which was introduced in 2001. There are many English-speaking GPs. Medical care is available to anyone who is a legal resident in Brazil, including foreign residents

Head to Asia on a Detox Holiday

Beach (3)As the spiritual home of healing, Asia is an ideal choice for a detox holiday to cleanse your body, clear your mind and improve your overall well-being. To help you along the way and ensure you get the very best out of your healing escape, Health and Fitness Travel, the UK’s leading specialist in healthy holidays worldwide, handpicked some of the best detox holidays to be found across the exotic continent we know and love as, Asia. Whether you take detox holidays on a regular basis or are looking to try out your first, Health and Fitness Travel’s tailor-made holidays combine a variety of holistic spa treatments, fitness activities and healthy detox diets, for a personalized life-changing experience that will have you ‘spring-cleansing’ year after year writes the healthytravelblog.com

Thailand: Absolute Sanctuary Detox With lush rainforests, beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters, Thailand is the perfect place to detox, de-stress and relax away from the worries of modern life. Using a combination of detoxing drinks and natural spa therapies, the tropical oasis of Absolute Sanctuary offers guests a range of holistic wellness programs to boost your well-being revival. Heal your body with up to 4 detox drinks a day, together with coconut juice and unlimited broth soups; all designed to improve your digestion and leave you feeling re-enerzised. Also renowned for its comprehensive yoga holidays, Absolute Sanctuary provides a selection of disciplines across multiple classes every day, to complement your detox.

Bali: Como Shambhala Detox Holiday Renowned for its idyllic landscapes and rich cultural heritage, heavily influenced by the Hindu- Buddhist ideals of spiritual well-being, Bali is an ideal choice for a destination detox holiday. Cleanse your body of toxins with a choice of healing therapies and a diverse menu of fresh and nutritional detox cuisine at Como Shambhala. Take advantage of the multi-award winning spa and indulge in luxury treatments, designed to help remove an accumulation of harmful toxins from your body. Meals at the resort’s restaurants can be personalized to your specific detoxing goals and tastes, so you can improve your body’s natural defense system while enjoying mouth-watering and healthy Asian-inspired cuisine.

India: Ananda Detox As the birthplace of yoga and holistic Ayurvedic spa treatments, it should come as no surprise that some of the best detox holidays in the world can be found in inspirational India. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, Ananda’s beautiful scenery adds to the healing power of the resort’s detox program. Structuring their programs to address all areas of holistic healing, Ananda provides the key to an effective detox with treatments to improve blood circulation and the efficiency of the lymphatic system. Rejuvenate with healing treatments including mountain dew skin facials and detoxifying salt scrubs, alongside daily wellness classes performed with stunning views of the scenic backdrop.

Philippines: The Farm Detox Formed of over 7,000 islands, boasting lush rainforest and secluded beaches, many of the Philippines sparsely inhabited islands provide the ideal retreat for a detox escape. Cleanse your body and restore balance to your life with a detox holiday at The Farm. Tailor your escape with a range of cleansing treatments combined with award-winning raw vegan cuisine to leave you feeling renewed and revitalized. Consultations with a medical doctor and personal trainer will not only help you achieve your goals, but also set you up to improve your lifestyle and nutritional choices after you return home.  

Guest Author: Health and Fitness Travel Health and Fitness Travel is a global luxury wellness travel company that originated in the UK in 2010 and is committed to providing healthy holidays that enhance and change lives. Created by Paul Joseph and Adam Heathcote as a result of their passion for health and fitness travel and offering bespoke holidays to improve people’s well-being to lead happier and healthier lives.    

Health and Fitness Travel offers clients a tailor-made seamless service with the very best health and fitness holidays, handpicked by its expert team, together with exclusive and added value packages with the best deals. As leading specialists, Health and Fitness Travel has also created their own collection of trademark healthy holidays in various destinations which include Fusion Fitness™ BodyBreaks™ and Discover Recover™, offering clients the best value and holiday experience. For more information visit: www.healthandfitnesstravel.com

Expat health insurance top priority for half of businesses

backview of senior couple looking over the seaAccording to research 47% of companies believe health insurance cover is an essential part of the benefits package for expat employees. The Anatomy of an international business research, which surveyed 1,000 employers, also found that 43% believe that share options are an essential part of the package writes expathealth.org

More than a quarter (27%) of those polled said their staff had used a 24-hour medical helpline abroad, and 26% have had to make use of medical evacuation where facilities were not available locally. Nearly half (45%) think medical evacuation should be included as part of an international insurance package, with the same percentage calling for a 24-hour medical helpline

Most expatriates positive about their lifestyle

A survey by a leading international private medical insurance broker amongst expatriates has discovered that most expatriates were positive about their lifestyle with 80% of the sample saying they either ‘really enjoyed’ or ‘enjoyed’ their lives abroad writes iPMI magazine.
By contrast, less than 2% said they were not enjoying their time overseas. Nearly 60% of the sample cited a better climate as the main reason for their positive outlook, closely followed by an improved standard of living. Being away from their home country was also an influencing factor. A better social life, additional income, experiencing different cultures and their job did not add significantly to the overall happiness of respondents

What is dengue and how is it treated?

Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. There are four distinct serotypes of the dengue virus (DEN 1, DEN 2, DEN 3 and DEN 4). Symptoms appear in 3–14 days (average 4–7 days) after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults.

There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Severe dengue is a potentially lethal complication but early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by experienced physicians and nurses often save lives.

More than 70% of the disease burden is in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the incidence and severity of disease have increased rapidly in recent years. The African and Eastern Mediterranean regions have also recorded more outbreaks of the disease in the last ten years. In 2010 indigenous transmission of dengue was also reported in two countries of Europe. Urbanization, rapid movement of people and goods, favorable climatic conditions and lack of trained staff have all contributed to the global increase of dengue

Benefits of learning a second language last a lifetime

shutterstock_28674544For many expats learning a second or third language is par for the course, but studies have shown the benefits of speaking another language extend far beyond being able to communicate. Learning a language benefits the brain in ways that can pay off later in life, according to the deepening field of study into the relationship between bilingualism and cognition.

Increasing numbers of studies are finding learning a language benefits an ageing brain. In one large Scottish study, researchers looked at the standard intelligences tests, administered to 11-year olds, of 835 native English speakers born in Edinburgh in 1936. Many were retested in their 70s and those who spoke two or more languages performed significantly better cognitively on certain tasks than would be expected from their original IQ tests, said study author Dr. Thomas Bak of the University of Edinburgh.

“Our results suggest a protective effect of bilingualism against age-related cognitive decline, independently of IQ,” Bak and his co-authors concluded.

In a separate study from Canada, psychologists also studied bilingualism and its effects on the brain in dementia patients. They discovered people who speak two or more languages outperformed monolinguals in tasks which require attention, selection and inhibition. These are the high-level cognitive processes which we need to multitask effectively.

For the brain the process of multitasking is complicated and taxes energy resources, said Ellen Bialystok in CBC News, who runs a cognitive research lab at York. She first observed how bilingual children perform better in the 1980s writes expathealth.org

“What a bilingual always has to do is draw attention to the right language, and keep that other active language out of the way. Now the system that selects, inhibits, and switches is the executive function system, she explained.

“That means that every time a bilingual opens their mouth, they’re using their executive function system. It’s getting practised, it’s getting fortified, and it’s becoming more efficient.”