Author Archives: vaiseyj

Ebola crisis: Queensland Health activates emergency coordination centre amid heightened concern

ABC News 17 October, 2014

Queensland Health has activated the State Health Emergency Coordination Centre amid the heightened national response to the threat from the Ebola virus.
The move came as chief medical officers from around the country met to discuss Australia’s preparedness to deal with any Ebola case.
Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said a communicable disease incident management team of around 18 health experts and support officers had also been established.
“It’s about formalising the work that was already underway with regard to our level of preparedness and response capabilities to a case of Ebola virus disease (EVD),” Dr Young said.

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Academies call for consequences from the Ebola virus epidemic

EurekAlert 15-Oct-2014

The Ebola virus is spreading rapidly and to an unexpected extent. The outbreak does not follow the patterns experienced in the past and the virus shows a new disease dynamic in regions, where it has never been recorded before. For this reason, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, acatech – the German Academy of Science and Engineering, and the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities have presented a statement on the Ebola epidemic today.
In the statement the academies call for the following consequences to be taken: To combat the Ebola epidemic vaccines and antivirals are urgently needed. To meet this need, the further development of experimental vaccines and medicines for clinical application needs to be accelerated. Even if the pathogen should temporarily disappear again, research must continue as a precautionary measure because another outbreak is highly probable. Such precautionary measures must also include ensuring that sufficient quantities of available vaccines and antivirals are stockpiled in case of a new outbreak. Increasing medical and social science research in this area is also vitally important for future preparedness.

Read EurekAlert report

Link to Leopoldina press release


Australia has plans to tackle Ebola in PNG and Pacific

The Australian Mark Coultan October 17, 2014

AUSTRALIA has plans to send field hospitals and medical workers to Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific should the Ebola virus spread to our part of the world.
Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said today that Australia had the equipment and capacity to respond, as it had responded to the Bali bombings.
Speaking to the media on Australia’s response, Mr Dutton echoed other Coalition ministers in accusing Labor, which has criticised the government refusal to send medical teams to West Africa, of “playing politics with Ebola”.
He called on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to rein in his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, who said this morning that the government was not trying to arrange evacuation plans for any Australian medical mission.
Mr Dutton said the government could not responsibly send medical teams without a way of evacuating any person who might become infected.
The government believes anyone who falls prey to the virus would not survive the 30-hour trip back to Australia, and extraction arrangements with other nations must first be made.
Speaking after a teleconference between the commonwealth’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Baggoley, and state chief health officers, Mr Dutton denied that the government was considering mandatory detention for travellers arriving from West Africa.
He said Australia was well prepared to deal with any case of an infected person arriving in Australia. If someone arrived on a plane with the infection, they would be isolated and taken to designated centres in each state to be treated.
A tracing procedure would be put in place, starting with those in might have come in contact with that person. This would start with passengers on the plane who sat in front, behind, or next to the infected person.
He emphasised that the threat from Ebola remained very low in Australia. Unlike the flu, Ebola was not transmitted by coughing or sneezing, but only be an exchange of bodily fluids.
Certain cultural practices in Africa increased the likelihood of transmission, but this did not occur in Australia, he said.
Tony Abbott again defended Australia’s refusal to send teams of health workers or defence personnel to Africa to tackle Ebola.
“There’s a world of difference between volunteers going and displaying selfless humanitarianism, which I praise, and the government ordering Australian defence personnel to go to an area where we don’t have the capacity to evacuate people,” the Prime Minister told reporters today.
Australia has been criticised for not providing enough assistance to battle and contain the virus, which has killed 4500 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Labor believes Australia should more actively support the global fight against Ebola, citing the World Health Organisation’s 60-day countdown to get the virus under control.
But Immigration Minister Scott Morrison accused Labor of proposing to put Australian medical personnel in “harm’s way” by sending them to fight Ebola in west Africa.
Ms Plibersek butted heads with Mr Morrison over the issue on Nine’s Today Show this morning.
“At the moment, (the government) are discouraging people that want to help,” she said. “I know you’re not trying to find one (an extraction plan).”
Mr Morrison said the opposition should not “play politics” with Ebola. “It’s disappointing,” he said of Labor’s call for government-backed aid missions.
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Brisbane Times Latika Bourke October 17, 2014

Pacific island residents infected with Ebola could be flown to Australia for treatment, Health Minister Peter Dutton says.
Mr Dutton flagged the possibility during an interview with Melbourne radio station 3AW on Friday.
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ABC News Sophie Scott 17 October 2014

While the Federal Government says it will not send troops or medical personnel to fight Ebola, at least 12 Australians are already on the front line of the outbreak in Africa.
Meanwhile, a range of new precautions to prevent the deadly virus entering Australia have been put in place.
Australia has been screening passengers returning from West Africa since early August, Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Baggoley said.
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Bat’s immunity may hold key to preventing future Ebola outbreaks

The Conversation Michelle Baker 16 October 2014

Bats are the natural host species for Ebola and a variety of viruses, many of which can be fatal when transmitted to humans. More than 100 viruses have been identified in bats and this number is rising each year.
African fruit bats first transmitted Ebola virus to primates and other species through contact with bat droppings, half-eaten fruit or bodily fluids of diseased bats. People are thought to have contracted the virus through contact with infected bats and primates. Subsequent person–to-person transmission occurs through direct contact with infected body fluids: blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine or faeces.
Interestingly, bats have the ability to harbour viruses such as Ebola and don’t display clinical signs of disease. Yet once the virus infects other species, it has the potential to cause widespread death and disease. How is it that bats are resistant to a disease that kills up to 90% of people it infects?

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Study suggests 21-day Ebola quarantine period is not enough

ScienceAlert BBC 16 October 2014

An examination of several past Ebola outbreaks has led Charles Haas, an expert in biological pathogen risk analysis at Drexel University in the UK, to suggest that Ebola patients may need to be quarantined for longer than the World Health Organisation’s recommended 21-day period.
Publishing in the journal PLOS: Outbreaks, Haas analysed past Ebola outbreaks to trace the origin of the 21-day quarantine period to the 1976 Ebola outbreak in Zaire. The 21-day period was also used in the 2000 Uganda outbreak, and remains the standard procedure for the current outbreak.
But why 21 days? On what information was that specific period based? Haas could not find an answer. “Twenty-one days has been regarded as the appropriate quarantine period for holding individuals potentially exposed to Ebola virus to reduce risk of contagion, but there does not appear to be a systemic discussion of the basis for this period,” he said in a press release.

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Link to PLOS Current Outbreaks journal article

Tuberculosis cluster: Torres Strait islanders ‘kept in the dark’ about Yam Island cases

ABC News Andree Withey 16 October 2014

A tuberculosis cluster has been identified on Yam Island in the Torres Strait by Queensland Health but locals were not informed.
Local Councillor Getano Lui said he was horrified the Yam Island community of about 360 people had not been told about the discovery.

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Operation Mike Publish, North Brisbane

Qld Police Media October 15, 2014

Detectives from North Brisbane Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) have today closed a significant operation targeting anti-social behaviour and squatting in the Aspley area.
Operation Mike Publish commenced this morning in two, short-term and residential parks on Gympie Road, Aspley as police executed eight search warrants.
Preliminary figures indicate 19 people were charged with 47 offences including stealing, drug possession/supply, drug driving and various traffic offences.

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