Latest News

Does lymphatic filariasis still occur in the Solomon Islands?

Elephantiasis of right foot - Outer Shortland Islands

Solomon Islands was declared free of lymphatic filariasis (LF) by the World Health Organization in 2011. Elephantiasis is the disfiguring end stage disease of LF (image). However, ongoing surveillance is required to ensure that a country remains LF-free. A team from the Atoifi Health Research Group, in response to requests from residents, visited the Outer Shortland Islands last week to follow-up rumours of elephantiasis.

Bodies pile up in Sierra Leone: Connect the dots!

Ebola safe burial team - Liberia - Al Jazeera

Ebola deaths totally overwhelmed the hospital at Kono in Sierra Leone last week. The rate of deaths exceeded the capacity of burial services and bodies piled up unburied. BBC World Service reported that over 11 days in Kono after assistance arrived, "two teams buried 87 bodies, including a nurse, an ambulance driver, and a janitor drafted into removing bodies as they piled up". See

Cambodia: Five tons of counterfeit drugs go up in smoke!


The Cambodian government incinerated 5 tons of fake drugs in Dangkao district, on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on Friday, 28 November. This consisted of 62 types of counterfeit medicines. The magnitude of the problem of counterfeit medicines in southeast Asia is well illustrated by this event.

Latest Travel Bug: Rusty semen!

Usisya Lodge, Lake Malawi by Ben Speare

Schistosomiasis is the topic of my latest Travel Bug column in Medical Observer. Disease due to the most common species of this fascinating trematode, Schistosoma haematobium, can occassionally present with haemospermia (blood stained semen). This curious presentation was first revealed to the world in a self-infection by Clyde Barlow, a US parasitologist.

DRC: Another African country beats Ebola!


On the 15 November the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the DRC Ebola outbreak to be over. This date was 42 days after the onset of the last detected case. Two maximum incubation periods for the disease is used in determining the end date for outbreaks; i.e, 21 days x 2 = 42 days for Ebola. The government of DRC, assisted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and WHO, controlled this outbreak, which was separate from the West African Ebola epidemic.

Teaching RANs about drugs


Teaching remote area nurses (RANs) in outback Australia to be effectve prescribers is the topic of an article just published in the Australian Pharmacist. The author of Teaching remote area nurses is Toby Speare, the pharmacy academic at the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs.

President Obama on Ebola: "We cannot build a moat around our countries and we shouldn’t try".


In a masterful speech at the University of Queensland on 15 November, President Barack Obama spoke about the need for basic public health systems to control epidemics like Ebola. "What we have learned from the Ebola outbreak, is that in this globalised world, where the Pacific is like a lake, if countries are so poor that they can’t afford basic public health infrastructure, that threatens our health. We cannot build a moat around our countries and we shouldn’t try.

Hazards of eating naturally dead horses: Nipah virus in the Philippines


Nipah virus has been identified as the cause of deaths of people, cats and dogs in the Philippines associated with the butchering and consumption of dead horses. In a paper just published in Emerging Infectious Diseases Ching et al (2014) describe the two outbreaks which occurred earlier in 2014 and the identification of the agent as a henipavirus most closely related to Nipah virus (NiV).

Ebola: Mali has local transmission


A nurse has died from Ebola at the Pasetur Clinic in Bamako, the capital of Mali. The case was reported today by BBC - The nurse was infected while caring for a patient who arrived from Guinea. The body of the patient, a grand imam, was taken back into Guinea for burial. The nurse died on 12 November and a doctor from the clinic is also reported to be ill.

Toilets and Taboos in the Tropics


Catch Dr David MacLaren's TEDx talk about toilets in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories here This was delivered in Cairns on 3 October. David's talk highlight the complexities of providing sanitation in societies with different worldviews and very complex social and environmental issues.

Posted by Rick Speare