17 November, 2010

Australia Disbanding Outbreak Team and the Changing Face of HIV in China

http://healthmap.org/en/?ps=148  (Australia's alerts this year)
Australia to discontinue infectious disease investigation team:
Australia is one of very few industrialized nations without a national disease control center.  For the past 20 years, outbreak investigations have been preformed through the Master of Applied Epidemiology program at Australian National University (ANU).  Funding has run out, raising concerns among public health experts.  Professor Robert Douglas of ANU explained that the group played a role in “stemming the spread of about 200 epidemics, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Hendra virus, the swine flu and food-borne infections.”  To see a map of outbreaks in Australia this year, please click here.

Cholera on Daru Island
A cholera outbreak in Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Daru Island has Austalian official worried.  This outbreak is an extension of last year’s cholera outbreak in mainland PNG.   At least 16 people have died.   While 274 of the Torres Strait Islands are owned by Australia, Daru Island belongs to PNG.  Australia has enacted travel restrictions between the Torres Strait Islands and PNG to reduce the likelihood of cholera’s spread.  They have also sent emergency support to help combat the outbreak.

HIV in China
Recently, China released figures that as of September this year, there are 360,000 HIV positive cases in the country, among whom 130,000 have progressed to AIDS and 60,000 have died. Furthermore, HIV was the number one killer among all infectious disease-related deaths. In recent years, China has seen a shift in HIV demographic from high risk populations such as IV drug users and plasma sellers to the general population who contract the disease via heterosexual transmission. Multiple provinces and autonomous regions also reported this similar trend and an increase in HIV cases and deaths each year. While the country has made enormous strides over the years in reducing the stigma around the disease and promoting a message of tolerance and awareness through public education and propaganda, those infected with HIV still experience heavy discrimination and poor access to medical and social support. Just yesterday, in China’s first ever lawsuit over employment-discrimination against people who are HIV-positive, the court ruled against the defendant, citing that the city education bureau had correctly followed public service standards in assessing its teaching candidates.

Dengue in Brazil and Miami:
Since January 2010, Brazil has seen a 90% increase in deaths from Dengue as compared to the same period last year.  Many of the deaths have been from type 1 Dengue, which had been largely absent in Brazil since the 1990s. Health officials are particularly concerned about the dramatic increase in cases, as Brazil now enters its six-month rainy season. During this time frequent downpours cause standing water to become mosquito breeding ponds. The health ministry is launching a campaign to educate the public through TV and radio ads as well as through the distribution of flyers.

In other Dengue news, Miami has reported its 1st case of dengue fever in 50 years. This news comes 4 months after health authorities announced 1000 probable cases in Key West, FL. This news marks the likely resurgence of dengue in the state of Florida.

H1N1 Resurfaces:
In Harare, Zimbabwe 1 case of H1N1 has been confirmed  and 5 others are suspected. The public was notified of the cases via the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, which stated via the Deputy Minister of Child Health and Welfare Dr. Mombeshora that Zimbabwe possesses enough medicine to protect the public in the event of an H1N1 outbreak. For the combined areas of Harare, Masvingo, and Matabeleland North and South,  a total of 15,453 cases of H1N1 were suspected as of last Friday, November 5th.

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