Latest News

H7N9 influenza - now in Beijing


The first case of H7N9 influenza has just been confirmed in Beijing - a 7 year old girl. Total confirmed cases is now 44 with 11 deaths; a case fatlaity rate of 25%. The girl's father works in the poultry industry. Chinese authorities have officially reported detection of this H7N9 virus in bird samples collected from chickens, quails, ducks and captive-bred pigeons at live bird markets in areas where humans have been affected (UN FAO 12 April 2013).

H7N9 influenza in China - no human to human transmission - yet!


The number of confirmed cases of H7N9 influenza in easetrn China is now 28 with 9 deaths (case fatality rate of 32%).

No human to human transmission has been proven.

New influenza (H7N9) has high case fatality rate


The new strain of influenza (H7N9) that emerged in China in March has killed 5 of the 11 confirmed cases, a case fatality rate of 45%. This is of major concern. The case fatality rate of the current pandemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 is higher (often above 60%). However, transmission of H5N1 to humans is low owing to lack of suitable receptors in the upper respiratory tract of humans, and transmission usually requires close exposure to an ill bird or very rarely a person infected with H5N1.

Air pollution - "Doc, should I go?"


Air pollution is becoming a challenge for people traveling to the world's 24 megacities, particularly in China. Medical Observer has published a short article by THS Director, Rick Speare, to assist doctors to advise those patients who start to wonder whether they should go. Read the story at Medical Observer.

Beware the bot!


Becoming host to a bot fly maggot is a risk for travelers to Africa and South America. Medical Observer has just published a short article on this written by THS Director, Rick Speare. The main message? Looks dramatic, but not a serious problem. Prevent it by ironing clothes in Africa or drying them indoors. If you must get rid of your little guest - asphyxiate them first by covering their breathing holes.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus


Sadly, a young 8 year old Queensland boy was critically ill on 16 February 2013 from the rabies-like virus, Australian bat lyassavirus (ABLV). This virus has caused two deaths, both in Queensland. The first was a woman in 1996 in Rockhampton (Samaratunga et al 1998) and the second a Mackay woman in 1998 (Hanna et al 2000).

Yuck! Head lice!


People don’t like head lice! We all know this of course, but a paper just published in the February issue of the International Journal of Dermatology explores these feelings in a systematic way (Parison et al 2013).

THS Director awarded Australia Day honours


Rick Speare was today awarded a Membership in the Order of Australia (general division). The award recognises his “significant service to medical and biological research through leadership roles in the areas of public health and wildlife conservation”.

Keep the pandemic amphibian disease, chytridiomycosis, out of the Tasmanian Wilderness WHA


The amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has spread across the globe in a devestating pandemic that has had a major impact on amphibian populations. Some species have become extinct, others have been drastically reduced in numbers, while some are minimally affected and can act as carriers.

One Disease at a Time tackles control of the neglected disease, crusted scabies

Aboriginal man wih crusted scabies

Scabies control in East Arnhem Land is the focus of One Disease at a Time. This neglected parasitic disease, particularly its severe form, crusted scabies, has a massive impact on health in rural and remote Indigenous communities in Australia. A case of crusted scabies in a community makes scabies control very difficult since the person becomes a reservoir for the scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabiei), reinfecting community members. Crusted scabies also has a disasterous impact on a person's quality of life.