Smallpox pandemic simulation among leading-edge research published in new Global Biosecurity journal.

The research, led by Professor Raina MacIntyre at the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney, explores a bioterrorism exercise called ‘Exercise Mataika’, which used the hypothetical scenario of a smallpox attack in the Pacific to examine our local, regional and global preparedness. The exercise brought together multidisciplinary experts from around the world. According to the research, the scenario is a higher risk today because of major advances in biology and DNA editing. A UN Security Council Report issued in February 2019 also highlights the increased risk of biological attacks. READ MORE


New Zealand leads global effort to control rheumatic fever

A three-year project aimed at pinpointing the most effective ways to prevent and control rheumatic fever and associated heart disease in New Zealand is being launched tomorrow (Tuesday 12 February) at the University of Otago, Wellington.

The project was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand last year.

The project leader, Professor Michael Baker, from the University of Otago, Wellington, says the programme will be discussed at a one-day symposium, Update on rheumatic fever prevention and control, being held as part of the university’s annual Public Health Summer School. READ MORE

Study to pinpoint rheumatic fever response

Study to pinpoint rheumatic fever response READ MORE

The University of Otago, Wellington wants to find out why a small number of people with a Strep A throat infection go on to have rheumatic fever about three weeks later.

They also want to pinpoint the most effective ways to prevent and control rheumatic fever and associated heart disease in New Zealand as part of a three-year, $1.2 million Health Research Council-funded study.

Study leader Michael Baker says new data shows a rising trend in rheumatic fever incidence in New Zealand despite prevention efforts.

#rheumaticfever #strepthroat #infectiousdiseases

A child and tip of needle

Global Measles Outbreak

"We are seeing some very large outbreaks of measles at the moment especially in places like the Philippines, Ukraine, Romania and Africa," Professor Raina MacIntyre, a biosecurity expert at the University of New South Wales said. READ MORE

Curtin Uni and St John of God Health Care sign agreement for medical student to gain experience at Midland Hospital

THE next generation of doctors in the Midland area has been guaranteed following the signing of an agreement between Curtin University and St John of God Health Care today for medical students to gain clinical experience at Midland Hospital.Read more

ANU begins study into PFAS health risks in Katherine

A university is conducting research into the health risks of living with PFAS in Katherine. Read more

Food safety experts warn rockmelon listeria outbreak could happen again

Consumers have been warned that a listeria outbreak could happen again, with pregnant women and the elderly warned to avoid rockmelon altogether in their summer fruit salads. Read more

Parents worried after school children swim in contaminated river

Parents at Ashley School in Canterbury want to know if their children are safe after they swam in the contaminated Ashley River last week.

Fish and Game revealed this week three Canterbury rivers, including the Ashley River, had traces of an antibiotic-resistant E coli.

There is also a pathogen that can cause kidney failure.

University of Otago professor of public health Michael Baker said people should seek medical help if they had vomiting, stomach cramps or diarrhea. READ MORE

Kidney failure pathogen found in Canterbury rivers

Scientific testing of three rivers in Canterbury has revealed strains of a severe pathogen which can cause kidney failure and, possibly for the first time, antibiotic resistant E. coli.The independent testing commissioned by Fish and Game has raised red flags for public health officials who say that it needs more investigation......

University of Otago professor of public health Michael Baker said STEC produced a toxin which could make you ill even if you swallowed only a few organisms.

The bacteria was almost absent from New Zealand 25 years ago, but the number of cases had risen rapidly in the last three years. In the last 12 months around 750 people had become sick around the country, and Dr Baker said it was particularly common in young children living in rural areas.

"This is one of the most severe forms of diarrhoeal disease you can get in New Zealand."

He said the bacteria was a serious worry for New Zealand.


'Tis the season for food poisoning

Christmas is a time for giving, but a public health expert says people aren't just receiving presents at this time of year.

Professor Michael Baker from Otago University's Department of Public Health said Christmas dinner could be making a second, third or fourth appearance if handled poorly.

But there are things you can do to avoid any unwanted microscopic guests ruining Christmas.

Prof Baker said cases of gastroenteritis and food poisoning tend to peak in summer.

"The ones you really need to watch out for are bacteria that may multiply at room temperature on food, like salmonella and the staph toxin is produced by food that's left out," he said.

Prof Baker said the best way to avoid this was keeping food in the fridge rather than out on the table, but the one exception was a Christmas favourite - chicken - which made about 100 people sick with campylobacter every day.

"There are things people can do, buy cooked or frozen chicken, but if you do use fresh chicken one of the worst things you could do is wash it under the tap. It blasts the bacteria all over your kitchen," he said.