ABC News 17 October 2014
The country’s chief medical officers will meet today to discuss Australia’s preparedness to deal with any Ebola case.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called for a review of the hospital procedures in the wake of the latest Ebola developments in the United States.
Health Minister Peter Dutton yesterday toured Royal Brisbane Hospital, one of several major Australian hospitals that would handle any local Ebola case.
He rejected suggestions Australian health authorities were not ready for a case here.
The front line against Ebola in Australia
http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-front-line-against-ebola-in-australia-20141016-11772h.html The Sydney Morning Herald Marc Moncrief and Vanessa Desloires October 16, 2014
Nine cases of what was suspected to be the Ebola virus have been tested for in Australia this year, and all returned negative, according to the Melbourne-based lab designated as the front line against the disease here.
The cases tested by the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory include a one-year-old from Frankston who tested negative last month, and Cairns nurse Sue-Ellen Kovack.
Dr Mike Catton, director of the lab based at Melbourne University’s Peter Doherty Institute, said his team was prepared to respond to potential cases “24/7″.
“There’s not going to be bodies in the streets in Melbourne,” he said. “We might get a case, maybe two … but this is a problem in developing countries. It’s probably going to take some time to get it under control there, but it’s not something that is going to spread in developed countries.”
VIDRL is the only laboratory of its kind in Australia, operating at the highest international standard of security for infectious diseases. It is designated as the reference laboratory for viral hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.
If Ebola comes to Australia, it will be tested there.
Dr Catton said the likelihood of an uncontrolled outbreak in Australia was so small as to be “vanishing into invisibility”.
But the World Health Organisation this week reportedly warned that Australia needed to strengthen its defences. The cases of nurses in the US and Europe that have contracted the disease have raised concerns on whether protective measures are sufficient, or whether the disease has become even more dangerous than previously thought.
Associate Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, a practising infectious diseases physician at the Australian National University Medical School, says there is “no evidence” to suggest the disease has changed in nature in the way it’s transmitted.
But he maintains that Ebola “is only a plane ride away”.
“I’m still of the view that particularly if we only get a small number of cases, we are well resourced and prepared to control a major outbreak in Australia,” he said.
Dr Catton said it was “characteristic” of diseases such as Ebola, which are relatively difficult to contract, to spread through health workers and people in close contact to the sick.
“Viruses like HIV or Ebola are not very transmissible”, he said. “You need to pretty much … lead them by the hand to where they need to be. [This is] completely in contrast to something like flu, which is an epidemic virus and it’s hard to put that genie back in the bottle when it comes to your country.”
Dr Catton said the samples that had been received so far came from patients who had travelled to affected areas and then became feverish. Their travel histories throw up red flags, but in most cases the sickness turned out to be malaria or another more easily transmissible diseases.
“You can get the odd case travelling back to a first-world country – it wouldn’t be the first time,” he said. “There have been at least half a dozen cases of hemorrhagic fever over the past few decades that have made their way back to the US, UK and other countries. That’s not 10 people infected or 100 people infected. It’s not an outbreak, and I wouldn’t predict that those things would happen [here].”
Fears killer ebola disease is on the loose: Australia on alert
News.com.au Jim Khuhnenn October 17, 2014
THE Obama government is desperately scrambling to track down 132 people who they fear may have been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus while on a flight with a US nurse who has been hospitalised with the disease.
The US government was forced to ramp up its response to the horrifying scenario that the disease, which has killed 4484 people in West Africa, could now be spreading on US soil after Amber Jay Vinson, 29, the second nurse caring for the country’s first ebola victim, was cleared by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to board the commercial flight from Ohio to Dallas with a mild fever before she was diagnosed with the virus.
SERIOUS questions are being asked about Australia’s ability to fight an Ebola outbreak as the United Nations warns the world has just 60 days to control the epidemic.
Australia has only five isolation pods for transporting Ebola victims, some small regional hospitals don’t have the protective clothing needed to cope with a case and the government has not briefed health leaders on our preparedness.
Health officials are today reviewing national guidelines for managing Ebola after the US Centres for Disease Control announced it was revewing its protocals after two nurses in the United States were infected while treating Ebola patients.
Australia’s Ebola protocols are based on those developed by the US CDC which were called into question when two nurses contracted the virus while teating an Ebola patient in a Texas hospital.
The CDC has radically changed those guidelines in the wake of these infections to recommend health workers now fully cover their bodies in fluid overalls to protect themselves from the virus.
They must wear goggles or face shields, rubber aprons, two sets of gloves and learn to disrobe in a set fashion, washing their hands with disinfectant in the presence of another health worker who checks if they may have accidentally infected themselves while disrobing. as they do.
The new CDC guidelines are closer to the procedures Medecins Sans Frontieres uses when fighting the disease in West Africa.
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/ebola-health-authorities-scramble-to-get-equipment-to-fight-it-as-un-warns-we-have-60-days-to-beat-it/story-fneuzlbd-1227093088290?from=public_rss
AUSTRALIANS who contract Ebola would be unlikely to survive a more than 30 hour flight home from West Africa, the Abbott Government believes.
The Coalition is refusing to send health workers to the region, because there is currently no means to evacuate them should they become sick.
Even if they could, it’s understood the whole process to bring them home could be in the order of a week, given Australia’s remoteness.
The lengthy mission would involve having to find an available aircraft in West Africa — with an isolation unit — and then forming various agreements for locations to fly out of and refuel along the journey.
If a patient was already suffering a fever, it’s believed they might have passed to the excretion phase in that time.
Despite negotiations at the senior diplomatic level, no ally country has reached an agreement with Australia to guarantee to treat affected Australians in a different location.
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/government-says-it-is-too-risky-to-send-aussies-to-ebola-zone-in-west-africa/story-fneuzlbd-1227091712290?from=public_rss