Date: Mon 25 Feb 2019
Source: Swissinfo.ch [abridged, edited]
<https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/infectious-disease_why-some-swiss-people-still-get-measles/44774826>

Measles, a potentially deadly virus, is still breaking out in Switzerland, despite the availability of vaccinations.

At the beginning of February 2019, 60 children who had not been vaccinated were sent home after measles erupted in the Steiner School in the town of Biel. Families with an anthroposophical lifestyle, as advocated by Rudolf Steiner, are often restrictive with vaccinations because of the purported benefits of getting a disease naturally. Many others fear the side effects of vaccines more than the underlying diseases that they protect against. Daniel Koch, head of the infectious diseases department at the Swiss Federal Health Officeexternal link (BAG) assures the public that bad reactions are rare and that the effects of measles are much worse.

In 2018 there were 48 measles cases in Switzerland, but in an epidemic year, figures can rise to well over 1000 sufferers (1112 in 2009). To eradicate it, WHO advocates a vaccination coverage of 95% of the population. Swiss coverage is below this at 94%.

There are large differences between Swiss cantons, with more urban cantons reaching a near 100% level, while rural areas score much lower, with the lowest vaccination rate in the tiny canton of Appenzell Inner Rhodes at 82%.
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2019 21:26:43 +0100

Geneva, Feb 19, 2019 (AFP) - An avalanche left four skiers injured Tuesday at a resort in the Swiss Alps where rescue operations went on after dark with police fearing people could still be trapped under the snow.   The authorities held a press conference to announce the injuries, including one person seriously hurt, after local reports said up to a dozen people were engulfed by the avalanche.   Police officers said that based on witness reports other skiers could still be buried and the search would continue into the night.

Swiss RTS television said the army had set up lighting to aid the 240 rescue workers at the site.   The police had earlier tweeted that several people were under the avalanche that hit early afternoon on a slope 2,600 metres (8,600 feet) up at Crans-Montana, which was busy with skiers during school holidays.   A local newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, had quoted the head of Crans-Montana's municipal government, Nicolas Feraud, as estimating that "between 10 and 12 people" were buried under the snow.   "We are shocked and hope for good news about these people," Feraud was quoted as saying. 

A first attempt at locating victims using sniffer dogs was unsuccessful, a rescue worker told Le Nouvelliste, with four helicopters joining the search from the air.   Pierre Huguenin, of the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, described the snow in the area as damp and dense.   According to statistics from his institute, after 15 minutes under an avalanche, the chances of survival are no more than 50 percent.   Le Nouvelliste said the avalanche swept over 300 to 400 metres (yards) of the lower section of the Kandahar piste.   It quoted rescue workers as saying the snow was compacted and more than two metres (seven feet) thick.

Crans-Montana's website had listed the risk of an avalanche at two on a scale that runs from one (lowest risk) to five.    As the victims were on a designated ski slope, they were unlikely to have detector equipment to help rescue workers locate them.   The vast majority of deadly avalanches in the Alpine nation hit people skiing off-piste.    "We don't know yet whether the avalanche detached by itself or was set off by skiers, or a rockfall," Swiss avalanche expert Robert Bolognesi told the daily 20 Minutes.
Date: Mon 4 Feb 2019 14:34 CET
Source: Swissinfo [edited]
<https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/society/insected_tick-borne-encephalitis-threatens-almost-all-of-switzerland/44731764>

Only 2 Swiss cantons are not considered "at-risk" zones for tick-borne diseases, the Federal Office of Public Health has announced. Vaccination is recommended.  Following a recent government call for mass vaccinations against the debilitating tick-borne encephalitis [TBE] disease, the health office said on [Mon 4 Feb 2019] it considered the entire country -- except cantons Geneva and Ticino -- to be at risk.

In a press release (French [also available in German and Italian]) [<https://www.admin.ch/gov/fr/accueil/documentation/communiques.msg-id-73873.html>], the office repeated the call for anybody who may be exposed to ticks -- for example walkers, especially in forests -- to be vaccinated. Residents of Geneva or Ticino travelling outside their canton for such activities should also get the jab, it said.

The optimum time for vaccination is in winter, the office wrote, so that walkers and hikers are protected once the good weather and riskiest period (from April to October) rolls around.

Last year [2018] 380 cases of tick-borne encephalitis, a debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system and can be fatal, were reported in Switzerland, compared with 100 per year in previous years.

The other major disease transmitted by tick bites, Lyme disease, which is treatable in early stages with antibiotics but which sometimes brings lasting complications, is not preventable through vaccination.

To reduce the risk of picking up Lyme disease, or indeed the encephalitis [virus] strain, authorities recommend avoiding particularly at-risk areas, for example bushes and tall grass, as well as using an insect repellent and wearing clothing that covers the arms, legs, and feet.
=====================
[With the steady increase in TBE cases over recent years, advice for those individuals who frequent wooded areas in Switzerland to be vaccinated is prudent as the report above indicates. According to government information, the most widespread tick species in Switzerland is the wood tick (_Ixodes ricinus_ commonly known as the castor bean tick, sheep tick, or deer tick). It prefers deciduous woods with abundant undergrowth, the edge of the forest and forest paths, and waits on low growing plants until a warm-blooded host (a person or animal) brushes against the plant.

In a previous comment in 2017 concerning TBE in Switzerland, Dr Ivo M Foppa indicated that the incidence of TBE in Switzerland has increased markedly since 2000, roughly about 50 percent. The reason for the increase of TBE incidence in Central/Western/Northern Europe is unknown.

TBE is a virus infection caused by one of 3 TBE virus subtypes belonging to the _Flaviviridae_ family: Central European, Siberian, and Far Eastern (formerly known as Russian spring-summer encephalitis). It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected _Ixodes_ ticks. - PrMed Mod.TY]

[Maps of Switzerland:
<https://www.mapsofworld.com/switzerland/switzerland-political-map.html>
and <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/105>]
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2019 10:57:37 +0100

Geneva, Jan 20, 2019 (AFP) - An avalanche in southern Switzerland has killed one person and injured two others, police said Sunday, the latest deadly incident following heavy snowfall across the region.   A group of seven French nationals in a skiing party were on a snow ledge near the Vanil Carre mountain in the Chateau-d'Oex district Saturday when the avalanche occurred, said police in Switzerland's Vaud canton.   A 39-year-old man was "totally buried" and killed, while two others survived with minor injuries, said the police statement.    Switzerland's national weather office earlier in the week raised its avalanche warnings to the highest level across several parts of the country.   Last week, at least three people were killed by an avalanche in western Austria, while French authorities have also warned of a high avalanche risk in the Haute-Savoie region that borders Switzerland.
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2019 16:57:37 +0100

Geneva, Jan 14, 2019 (AFP) - More than 2,000 people in the Swiss Alps were isolated Monday after heavy snowfall cut roads and rail links as storms continued to wreak havoc across the region.   Swiss authorities have raised avalanche warnings in several regions to their highest levels.

And, just a week before the World Economic Forum's main annual meeting in Davos, train service to the glitzy ski town in eastern Switzerland has also ground to a halt, national rail service SBB said.    The head of the local government in the town of Disentis, Robert Cajacob, told AFP, that the town's population of 2,200 as well as "several hundred tourists" currently had no way out because of rail closures and impassable roads.    He said the situation was "stable" but "problematic."

The national weather office, MeteoSwiss, said that parts of the Alps had seen 60 to 90 centimetres (24 to 35 inches) of snow since Saturday night and that another 30 to 50 centimetres were expected in some parts of the northern Alps in the coming hours.   French authorities have also warned of a high risk of avalanches in the Haute-Savoie region that borders Switzerland, while avalanches in western Austria have killed at least three people in recent days.
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