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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 6:30 am 
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Encouraging results for meningococcal vaccine

AUSTRALIAN researchers have reported promising results from a trial of an experimental vaccine that appears to offer complete protection from the most common type of meningococcal disease, which caused 241 infections in Australia last year and can be fatal in up to 10 per cent of cases.

The vaccine was found to prompt a strong antibody response, at levels separate laboratory tests suggested would be enough to fight off the infection, in between 80 and 100 per cent of the more than 500 study participants, depending on the dose.

The encouraging findings, reported online yesterday in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, mean there are now two vaccines in advanced testing for meningococcal B, which causes up to 90 per cent of meningococcal cases in Australia and remains the only major serogroup, or type, of bacterial meningitis that cannot be prevented.

Australian children have been vaccinated against meningococcal C since 2003, and New Zealand already vaccinates against meningococcal B using a vaccine that is only effective against the specific B strain circulating there.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/he ... 6349286937


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2012 6:29 am 
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Immunisation incentive cuts a risk, say doctors

CHILD immunisations could fall as a result of cuts in incentive payments to doctors in the budget, the Australian Medical Association has warned.

But patient groups have responded angrily, saying doctors should not need to get special payments to immunise children.

''It would be a sad reflection on doctors'' if they were not prepared to ensure the best interests of their patients without extra payment, the chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum, Carol Bennett, said.

''This is supposed to be core business,'' she said, for which doctors received the standard Medicare payment of $35.60 for a standard consultation.

But the association's president, Steve Hambleton, said the cuts to immunisation incentives were ''a public health risk of the highest order''.

He said that doctors would still immunise patients but what was being removed was an incentive directed to doctors' practices to take extra steps, such as alerting patients of immunisation requirements and sending our reminders.

The GP payment cuts come amid of a series of budget measures aimed at medical expenses, including a crackdown on safety net reimbursement for high billing doctors and the means testing of tax perks for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

This will mean those earning above $84,000 ($168,000 for families) will have to generate $5000 in costs, up from $2000, to be eligible to get 10 per cent of their costs back, compared with 20 per cent now.

GPs' practices currently receive $3.50 per patient immunised, on condition they reach the required target of immunising at least 90 per cent of their child patients in line with national vaccination requirements.

The Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, said that doctors' incentives were being withdrawn because of the introduction, from July 1, of the requirement for children to be fully immunised for parents to collect the total $2100 available under Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/i ... z1uPGELgbi


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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 7:56 am 
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Immunisation incentive cuts a risk, say doctors

CHILD immunisations could fall as a result of cuts in incentive payments to doctors in the budget, the Australian Medical Association has warned.

But patient groups have responded angrily, saying doctors should not need to get special payments to immunise children.

''It would be a sad reflection on doctors'' if they were not prepared to ensure the best interests of their patients without extra payment, the chief executive of the Consumers Health Forum, Carol Bennett, said.

''This is supposed to be core business,'' she said, for which doctors received the standard Medicare payment of $35.60 for a standard consultation.

But the association's president, Steve Hambleton, said the cuts to immunisation incentives were ''a public health risk of the highest order''.

He said that doctors would still immunise patients but what was being removed was an incentive directed to doctors' practices to take extra steps, such as alerting patients of immunisation requirements and sending our reminders.

The GP payment cuts come amid of a series of budget measures aimed at medical expenses, including a crackdown on safety net reimbursement for high billing doctors and the means testing of tax perks for out-of-pocket medical expenses.

This will mean those earning above $84,000 ($168,000 for families) will have to generate $5000 in costs, up from $2000, to be eligible to get 10 per cent of their costs back, compared with 20 per cent now.

GPs' practices currently receive $3.50 per patient immunised, on condition they reach the required target of immunising at least 90 per cent of their child patients in line with national vaccination requirements.

The Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, said that doctors' incentives were being withdrawn because of the introduction, from July 1, of the requirement for children to be fully immunised for parents to collect the total $2100 available under Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement.

http://www.boorowanewsonline.com.au/new ... 51037.aspx


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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 7:37 am 
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One in six cancers worldwide are caused by infection

ISLAMABAD: One in six cancers two million a year globally - are caused by largely treatable or preventable infections, new estimates suggest.

The Lancet Oncology review, which looked at incidence rates for 27 cancers in 184 countries, found four main infections are responsible.

These four - human papillomaviruses, Helicobacter pylori and hepatitis B and C viruses - account for 1.9m cases of cervical, gut and liver cancers.

Most cases are in the developing world.

The team from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, part of the World Health Organization, says more efforts are needed to tackle these avoidable cases and recognise cancer as a communicable disease.

The proportion of cancers related to infection is about three times higher in parts of the developing world, such as east Asia, than in developed countries like the UK - 22.9% versus 7.4%, respectively.

“Infection prevention ...could have a substantial effect on the future burden of cancer worldwide”, Dr Catherine de Martel and Dr Martyn Plummer.

Nearly a third of cases occur in people younger than 50 years.

Among women, cancer of the cervix accounted for about half of the infection-related cancers. In men, more than 80% were liver and gastric cancers.

Drs Catherine de Martel and Martyn Plummer, who led the research, said: "Infections with certain viruses, bacteria, and parasites are some of the biggest and preventable causes of cancer worldwide.

"Application of existing public-health methods for infection prevention, such as vaccination, safer injection practice, or antimicrobial treatments, could have a substantial effect on the future burden of cancer worldwide."

Vaccines are available to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV) - which is linked to cancer of the cervix - and hepatitis B virus - an established cause of liver cancer. And experts know that stomach cancer can be avoided by clearing the bacterial infection H. pylori from the gut using a course of antibiotics.

Commenting on the work, Dr Goodarz Danaei from Harvard School of Public Medicine in Boston, the US, said: "Since effective and relatively low-cost vaccines for HPV and HBV are available, increasing coverage should be a priority for health systems in high-burden countries."

Jessica Harris of Cancer Research UK said: "It's important that authorities worldwide make every effort to reduce the number of infection-related cancers, especially when many of these infections can be prevented. In the UK, infections are thought to be responsible for 3% of cancers, or around 9,700 cases each year.

"Vaccination against HPV, which causes cervical cancer, should go a long way towards reducing rates of this disease in the UK. But it's important that uptake of the vaccination remains high. At a global level, if the vaccine were available in more countries, many thousands more cases could be prevented."

http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.ph ... ame=Health


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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 7:20 am 
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Judge ordered parents to vaccinate newborn

A JUDGE ordered a mother and father take their newborn baby to hospital for urgent hepatitis B injections, despite the parents' opposition to vaccinations.

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Jean Dalton made the order last year - but only published her reasons today - after doctors made an urgent application to give the child two preventative vaccines.

During the application the court heard the baby, which was just 40 hours old at the time, had a 20 per cent chance of being infected with the virus, of which the mother has a chronic form.

If the baby was infected, it was almost certain to develop a chronic infection and would be at risk of cancer and liver disease.

The parents opposed the application on the grounds they did not agree with vaccination because of religious beliefs.

The father also had philosophical concerns about the financial agendas of pharmaceutical companies in distributing these drugs, the court heard.

The parents argued the percentage chance of the baby being infected was low enough to risk not giving it the injections, which had to be delivered within 48 hours of birth.

However Justice Dalton said that the immediate welfare of the child outweighed the parents' concerns, and ordered they take the baby to hospital immediately.

Justice Dalton refused to make orders about a future vaccination schedule for the virus, advising the parents to seek legal assistance if they wished to continue their dispute against treatment.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaki ... 6360125100


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 10:17 am 
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Vaccine go-ahead despite objection

DRAMATIC details have emerged about an emergency session of Queensland's Supreme Court where doctors fought to vaccinate a newborn child despite the religious objections of the parents.

The baby, who was only 40 hours old, was suspected of contracting hepatitis B from the mother and required two vaccines within eight hours, or would otherwise have a 4 per cent risk of death in young adulthood.

Justice Jean Dalton ultimately ordered the parents surrender the child for vaccination, but refused the doctors' pleas to administer ongoing vaccines so the parents could seek proper legal advice.

The judge noted the infant's parents had a "conscientious objection to vaccination" sustained by "strong religious beliefs" but said the risk was too great.

"The child's father, on behalf of the infant's parents, advances the case that on the medical evidence, there is a low percentage chance that his child . . . will go on to develop . . . either cirrhosis or liver cancer. That is undeniable," she said in a decision on October 7 last year, delayed for publication until now.

"However, the serious nature of the chronic hepatitis B infection and of liver cancer and cirrhosis means that . . . the medical profession considers it in the infant's best interest that these injections be administered."

The child's father feared chemicals and human plasma used to produce the necessary immunoglobin and hepatitis B vaccines would expose the baby to increased risk of dementia and the rare brain disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Medical experts replied the vaccines' side effects were "minor and do not often occur".

The court heard there was a 10 to 20 per cent chance the baby had become infected with hepatitis B during birth, and children infected with the disease have a 90 per cent chance of developing a chronic infection. Chronically infected infants have a 25 per cent chance of developing liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Hepatitis B can only be positively diagnosed in children from nine months of age. The doctors wanted to provide ongoing hepatitis B vaccinations at two, four and six months of the infant's life. But the judge decided to "confine any orders I make to those absolutely necessary in the short term for the welfare of this infant so that the child's father and mother have the benefit of legal assistance should they wish to continue disputing treatment recommended by the state".

The family's identities have been suppressed from publication.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/he ... 6361651627


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 7:35 am 
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Cancers and infections

Australia has had a pioneering role in the discoveries that underpin our understanding that some cancers can be caused by infectious agents. But we still face many problems that could be solved if we only had the will.

A recent article in The Lancet reported the results of a systematic review of the global burden of cancers attributable to infectious diseases. The review looked at incidence rates for 27 cancers in 184 countries. Of the estimated 12.7 million new cases of cancer worldwide in 2008, around two million were attributable to infectious diseases.

The four main infections that caused these were Helicobactor pylori, human papillomavirus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Overall, the study found that 16% of all cancers were attributable to infections; the good news is that many of these infection-related cancers are preventable.

Helicobactor pylori

In 2005, the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine was awarded jointly to two scientists from Western Australia – Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren. The prize was for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.

Rates of helicobacter pylori are reducing in most developed countries, including Australia, as a result. But the prevalence of H. pylori in Indigenous communities is two to three times higher than that in the non-Indigenous Australian population, with particularly high rates in rural and remote communities.

As recently as December 2011, there was still concern that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were at far greater risk of a range of gastric problems, including related cancers than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B infection can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine and much of Australia’s success results from the implementation of a vaccination program. But there are still populations that remain at higher risk of this infection. These include people born in countries where the vaccination program hasn’t been as effectively implemented or where implementation is recent.

This, however, is changing. China, the country with the most number of people infected with chronic hepatitis B in the world, has reduced the number of children with the illness to less than 1% of those under the age of five through vaccination.

But many of our neighbours need help vaccinating against hepatitis B. A 1998 letter to the British Medical Journal (BMJ) argued that the global burden of hepatitis B could be reduced more cost effectively if vaccination was targeted at highly endemic areas. In practical terms, this means that there’s a cost benefit for Australia to support vaccinating people in our region.

Hepatitis C

Reducing the transmission of hepatitis C is more challenging. While Australia was quick to secure the blood supply and support the operation of needle and syringes programs to prevent further transmission, an unsatisfactorily large number of people are still being infected with hepatitis C.

The association between hepatitis C transmission and unsterile injecting drug use (together with hostile attitudes and beliefs within Australia and the region about drug use), result in a reluctance to take the steps to reduce further transmission.

Key challenges remain for Australia to reduce the cancers associated with both hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections. It’s been estimated that about one-third of people in Australia with chronic hepatitis B remain undiagnosed and unaware that they’re infected. Added to this figure is the fact that less than 2% of the people who know they have the infection actually access hepatitis B specialist services.

Similarly, while Australia has been relatively successful in diagnosing people infected with hepatitis C, access to clinical services remains unspectacular.

In 2010, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution acknowledging the impact of chronic viral hepatitis and identifying a series of interventions to address it. But most governments in our region have made slow, if any progress, in developing a comprehensive and coordinated response.

Australia was the first country in the world to have a national strategic approach to hepatitis C, and in 2010 developed its first National Hepatitis B Strategy. But while these strategies provide the framework for implementing a range of programs, the lack of funding to support them fundamentally limits their effectiveness.

Human papillomavirus

In 2007, Australia was the first country to introduce the Gardasil vaccine free to girls aged 12 and 13, via a school-based program. The success of this program is already apparent in reducing the incidence of cervical abnormalities in young women who have received the vaccination.

The current HPV vaccination program will ensure that cancers of the cervix related to some types of HPV will continue to fall. But there’s increasingly strong evidence (some of which was included in this review) that HPV is also associated with penile and anal cancers, as well as oropharangeal (mouth and throat) cancers.

These cancers affect men, and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) last year recommended the Gardasil vaccine be given to boys aged 12 to 13 in a school-based program.

The Federal Government is considering

http://www.healthcanal.com/cancers/2946 ... tions.html


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 7:08 am 
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The CIA's fake vaccination drive has damaged the battle against polio

I was in New York on 11 September 2001, standing near one of the TV screens in the media section of Unicef's communication division, where I headed up Unicef's global communication work on immunisation. As the second plane crashed into the twin towers, we were quickly evacuated out of Unicef headquarters. I remember looking at the tall UN secretariat on First Avenue, home of the UN security council and the office of the UN secretary general. The building had always struck me as looking so graceful, but that morning it just looked like another ideal terrorist target. In fact, I never looked at the UN secretariat building with the same eyes again, and the impacts of that day – and the weeks and months that followed – were just the beginning of a changed, less trusting, anxious world.

The impacts of that day in New York became an unexpected thread in my Unicef work and the current research I lead at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where we monitor trends in vaccine confidence globally.

Last week's call by the World Health Assembly for an emergency response to polio eradication is not unrelated to the news that Dr Shakil Afridi has been convicted of treason in Pakistan and sentenced to 33 years in prison. Dr Afridi, former surgeon general of the Khyber agency, was central to the CIA-led fake vaccination drive used to confirm the presence of Osama bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The news of Dr Afridi's role did not emerge until a Guardian article in July 2011, when it shook the immunisation world. Although Dr Afridi had pretended to provide a hepatitis B vaccination, not normally a door-to-door delivery, the news had a particularly strong impact on those working in polio eradication, where door-to-door vaccination is the norm. Anxieties and distrust about the polio vaccine and its western providers were rampant in some communities, and suspicions about CIA links with the polio vaccination campaigns, and rumours they were a front for the sterilising of Muslims, had been around for a decade after 9/11. After years of working to dispel myths about CIA links to the polio eradication efforts – from northern Nigeria to Pakistan and India, all of the work seemed fruitless.

It is no coincidence that the remaining three countries in the world which have polio endemics are Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yes, there are geographical challenges and financial challenges. And, yes, finding Bin Laden has been a global security priority. But deep-seated suspicions about the motives of those who provide polio vaccines have persisted in some circles from Nigeria to Pakistan, and the CIA's choice of immunisation as a strategy to find Bin Laden has only given credence to the conspiracies.

There must have been a better, more ethical, way. This choice of action has jeopardised people's trust in vaccines, and in particular the polio-eradication campaign, now so close to success – broken trust that will take years to restore. Was this strategy worth this sacrifice of trust and the loss of opportunity for the final eradication of a disease scourge – another threat to human security? These are actions where the age-old Hippocratic oath might have urged caution.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... sfeed=true


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:08 am 
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Trial looks at needle-free vaccines

A needle-free vaccine is being trialled with flu injections in South Australia.

Flinders Medical Centre is comparing the needle-free device against traditional needle injections to administer the 2012 flu vaccine.

Developed in the United States, the device uses pressure to create a fine stream of liquid that penetrates the skin.

The centre's endocrinology director, Professor Nikolai Petrovksy, said it would be attractive to people with needle phobias and healthcare workers.

"Many people avoid having annual flu vaccinations because they are apprehensive about needles," Professor Petrovsky said.

The new device did not carry the risk of accidental needle stick injuries, which were a concern to healthcare workers giving vaccines, he said.

At least 200 people are needed for the trial, with half to receive the vaccine via the needle-free device.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifest ... -vaccines/


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:50 am 
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New flu strain set to hit Aust this winter

A new strain of flu from the northern hemisphere is likely to spread through Australia this winter, NSW health authorities say.

Centre for Health Protection director Dr Jeremy McAnulty says the new flu strain (H3N2) is likely to replace swine flu that emerged in 2009 as the dominant strain.

Pregnant women, the elderly and the chronically ill should be vaccinated.

"This may mean that people in older age groups ... may be at greater risk this winter," Dr McAnulty said in a statement on Monday.

"We are already seeing a rise in activity ... so now is the time to get vaccinated."

Free flu shots are available for people aged 65 and older, pregnant women, people with chronic illness as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr McAnulty said parents should arrange flu vaccinations for children older than six months, who were at relatively high risk of severe influenza.

Healthdirect nurses are available to give advice 24 hours a day on 1800 022 222.

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-na ... 1zqus.html


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:47 am 
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Cancer vaccine a gift to women

THE man known worldwide as "God's gift to women" has received top honours for creating the cervical cancer vaccine.

Immunologist Ian Frazer's appointment as a Companion (AC) in the General Division also recognises his extensive contributions to higher education and his support for charitable organisations such as the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, the UN's World Health Organisation, and the Bill Gates Foundation on papilloma virus.

"I was most surprised and honoured that I'd be considered for such an award. I don't think people expect these things, especially in my line of work," said Professor Frazer, chief executive officer and director of research at the Translational Research Institute, Queensland.

That may seem unlikely as Professor Frazer - founder, and until last year director, of the University of Queensland's Diamantina Institute for Cancer, Immunology and Metabolic Medicine - holds nine honorary medals and awards, including Australian of the Year, 2006. This year he was named as a National Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).

The Glasgow-born medical researcher is also a fellow in five professional societies in Australia and Britain and has served on many scientific committees.

"I'm obviously delighted to see science and medical research acknowledged in the public eye," said Professor Frazer, director of the Brisbane biotech firm Coridon.

"It's important people understand that the benefits they get from medical research today are because scientists put in the effort 20 years ago and at that time the public funded it."

His award-winning work to develop a vaccine against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV) is a case in point.

While on sabbatical from UQ in 1989, Professor Frazer met Chinese virologist Jian Zhou, also intrigued by the HPV. He convinced Dr Zhou to join him at UQ and the two put in hard research yards, until Dr Zhou's untimely death at age 42 in 1998.

Professor Frazer continued development of their publicly funded prototype vaccine, eventually selling their patent to fund clinical trails.

The vaccine - sold as Gardasil and Cervarix - proved nearly 100 per cent effective in preventing HPV infection and, thus, cervical cancer, the second most common cancer among women globally. Nearly 70 million doses have been administered to women in over countries.

And the work goes on. Supported by Australian and US funding bodies, Professor Frazer's team is developing vaccines against hepatitis C, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and even skin cancers. He's teamed up with University of NSW researcher Neil Foster to develop needle-free nanotechnology vaccines.

"We want to develop heat-stable oral vaccines for the developing world, " he said. "That's really what is exciting."

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-dept ... 6390501504


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:56 am 
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Fluvax probe reveals manufacturing flaw

It could be years before biopharmaceutical company CSL's flu vaccine can be used again by children, the company says.

CSL's vice-president of medical and research, Darryl Maher, says the company is trying to change the way it manufactures the vaccine, after the 2010 Fluvax inoculation caused fevers and convulsions in some young children.

An intensive two-year investigation into the adverse reactions, released publicly for the first time on Wednesday, found specific virus components had triggered excessive immune responses in children.

Dr Maher said the manufacturing method used by CSL seemed to preserve the virus components that caused the reactions.

He said CSL needed to change the process and show that the new method worked, while providing a safe and effective vaccine for all age groups.

"It's going to take a lot longer to establish safety in young children again," Dr Maher told AAP on Wednesday.

"We'll have to do clinical trials and that's going to take several years."

Dr Maher said the adverse reactions in 2010 were "quite unexpected".

CSL's Fluvax vaccine was banned for use in children under five and is only recommended for at-risk children aged five to nine if no other flu vaccines are available.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved the use of Fluvax late last year in people over the age of 10.

CSL released the results of its investigations at a national immunisation conference in Darwin.

The conference also heard from Julie Leask of the University of Sydney's School of Public Health who said more pregnant women should be receiving flu vaccinations to protect them and their babies.

Currently, fewer than one-third of pregnant women are vaccinated against the flu, despite being at greater risk of contracting the virus.

"At the moment, Australia needs to vastly improve it pregnancy flu vaccination rates so that pregnant women are protected and their infants are better protected as well," Dr Leask told AAP.

She said there was increasing interest in vaccinating pregnant women against whooping cough and trials were ongoing.

Currently the whooping cough inoculation is recommended only for pregnant women at direct risk of contracting the disease, such as childcare workers.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/health/84866 ... uring-flaw


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:31 am 
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Parents told to trust flu vaccines for children

Australia's Chief Medical Officer says parents should have confidence in giving influenza vaccines to their children.

Professor Chris Baggoley has told a national immunisation conference in Darwin there were 100 cases of febrile convulsions reported in children under five years of age who were given the FluVax brand vaccine in 2010.

In at least one case, the convulsions led to brain damage.

Since then, the vaccine, manufactured by CSL Biotherapies, has been banned for children under the age of five.

Professor Baggoley says parents can be confident two other influenza vaccines available in Australia can be safely used on children over the age of six months.

CSL Biotherapies has released its findings into what caused dozens of children to suffer seizures after being immunised.

CSL medical director Dr Alan Paul told the conference that the adverse reactions were caused by a higher number of "virus components" in its 2010 Fluvax vaccine than used in the vaccines of other companies.

The preliminary conclusions of a two-year investigation by the company found that five to seven children in every thousand vaccinated suffered febrile convulsions.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration says these reactions in children under the age of five years can result in brain damage or even death.

Dr Paul says it was an "unexpected event".

"Certainly this is a higher rate than what we expected from what we had seen in previous clinical data," he said.

"Ultimately, those reactions that were seen in 2010 were higher than the background rate which would be expected.

"The method in which we manufacture our vaccine, associated with the particular characteristics of the strain were pointing to the reactions."

The Australian Chief Medical Officer says "the findings justify the Government's decision to keep the current ban on the use of Fluvax in young children in place".

CSL says it is not aware of how many children have suffered long-term effects from Fluvax vaccinations.

A West Australian medical professor says there has been a significant drop off in the number of parents immunising their children against flu.

Professor Peter Richmond from the School of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Western Australia says there has been a loss of confidence among parents.

"We have seen a significant drop-off in coverage and that unfortunately means that there will be more young children susceptible to influenza," he said.

"I think it is important that parents realise it is a serious disease for young children, that they do get hospitalised, that there is a vaccine that does work for influenza, and the vaccines that we are now using in young children are safe."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-21/c ... gs/4083736


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:44 am 
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CFA's Fiskville cancer cluster report remains secret

A CONTROVERSIAL report into the suspected cancer cluster at the Country Fire Authority's Fiskville training college was handed down today, but the details remain secret.

The CFA received Prof Rob Joy’s 200-page report this morning about the storage and use of chemicals at the authority’s main training college since 1970.

But the CFA is refusing to release it publicly for at least two weeks while it prepares a response to its findings.

The report was prompted by exclusive reports in the Herald Sun in December, which linked the chemicals used in live burn training at Fiskville to the cancer-related deaths of at least 15 volunteers and staff.

A spokesman for the CFA said this afternoon that it would not provide a copy of the report to the Herald Sun until it had a chance to read it and prepare its response.

Prof Joy told the Herald Sun that he was unable to reveal his findings.

“It is the CFA’s report. It is up to them, but they have told me they will deal with it expeditiously,” he said.

He said the report was almost 200 pages long, but the details of more than 300 interviews with CFA staff and volunteers were also expected to be made public.

The report was initially due to take three months but it was extended at Prof Joy’s request to provide a more accurate pictures of the chemicals used there.

CFA chief Mick Bourke has previously told the Herald Sun that there would be another inquiry after this report to examine whether there was a link between the chemicals used at Fiskville and the cancer-related deaths of people who trained there.

The Metropolitan Fire Brigade cancelled water-based training at Fiskville this month after complaints about contaminated “brown and frothy” water being used to douse training fires.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-n ... 6411275974


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:33 am 
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Australians at risk of pneumonia not getting vaccinated

Almost two-in-three at-risk Australians aged 15-to-64 are failing to protect against an often fatal lung infection, according to new Australian-first research released today.

Spearheaded by the University of Sydney’s Family Medicine Research Centre and based on GP data involving 2,500 patients nation-wide, the research reveals poor vaccination rates among younger Australians, many of whom are at increased risk of developing pneumococcal pneumonia – a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria – compared with those aged 65 years and over.

Doctors are joining forces with patients this Pneumonia Awareness Week (July 2 - 8), to call for preventative action to curb pneumococcal infection rates this winter.

According to Professor Robert Booy, Head of Clinical Research at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), Sydney, this research reinforces the dangers associated with pneumococcal pneumonia, particularly during the colder months.

“Pneumonia-like illness is one of the top 10 contributing causes of deaths in Australia. The most recent statistics reveal that in one year, more females died from pneumonia than males, with 1,303 female deaths compared to 1,019 male deaths.

“Worryingly, this research reveals vaccination coverage is low among people aged 15-to-64 years who are at-risk of pneumococcal pneumonia, including people living with diabetes, chronic heart disease, chronic lung disease and tobacco smokers," said Prof Booy.

“In addition, one of the most commonly cited factors associated with low vaccination rates among high-risk groups is patient objection, particularly among those aged 65 years and older. But if only these people recognised the fact that they are at such high risk, they would get vaccinated.

“This finding is also particularly concerning, given the number of new cases of pneumococcal pneumonia each year rises exponentially between the ages of 50 and 80 years,” Prof Booy said.

The bacteria that causes pneumococcal pneumonia, known as Streptococcus pneumoniae, is responsible for approximately 1.6 million deaths per year world-wide, claiming more lives than any other single bacteria.

“Streptococcus pneumoniae is a very cunning organism, which can be spread by touching an infected person and through infected droplets in the air from a cough or sneeze,” said Prof Booy.

“There are ways to protect yourself against pneumococcal pneumonia, including vaccination,” according to Adelaide GP and Director of the Influenza Specialist Group, Dr Rod Pearce AM.

“To avoid the spread of infection practising good hygiene is vital – regular hand-washing, keeping household surfaces clean, and learning to recognise the symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia, including rapid or difficulty breathing, cough, fever, chills or loss of appetite.”

Entertainer and presenter, Patti Newton, was unaware of the severity of pneumonia until the illness struck her husband of 38 years, Bert, last winter.

“At first Bert was displaying flu-like symptoms, including a persistent cough. Then he began struggling to breathe.”

After observing her husband’s declining health, Patti convinced him to see their local doctor.

“I kept urging Bert to visit the doctor because I knew something wasn’t right.

“Our local GP sent Bert directly to hospital emergency, where specialists diagnosed pneumonia in both lungs. The pneumonia was obstructing Bert’s airways. He was sent straight to intensive care and hooked up to all sorts of equipment. It was incredibly frightening,” Patti said.

Patti is now committed to heightening community awareness and understanding of pneumonia.

“Many people incorrectly liken pneumonia to the flu. But once pneumonia takes hold of you, it’s very hard to shake. It’s a serious and often life-threatening infection that requires certain preventative measures.

“People at increased risk of pneumonia should speak to their doctor about ways to protect themselves against pneumococcal pneumonia. Bert has been vaccinated, to reduce his risk of contracting pneumococcal pneumonia, and I’m about to have one too,” said Patti.

According to Dr Pearce, while pneumococcal pneumonia can affect anyone, some people are at heightened risk of contracting the infection.

“Pneumococcal vaccination is recommended in Australia for infants, patients aged 65 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, tobacco smokers and high-risk people aged 10–64 years, including those with impaired immunity, and those with diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease and chronic kidney disease.

“GPs can diagnose pneumococcal pneumonia with a variety of tests, including a physical examination, chest X-ray, phlegm test, blood test and a urine test,” Dr Pearce said.

During normal respiration, air travels through the lungs to the alveoli or air sacs. Pneumococcal pneumonia is the result of the air sacs filling with fluids, most commonly caused by bacteria obstructing normal air flow.

Single mother, Melody, 38, from Melbourne, recently contracted pneumonia from her eight-year-old daughter.

“I’m young, fit and healthy with no underlying medical conditions, so I never considered myself to be a candidate for pneumonia, and I had no idea of its severity.”

In March 2012, Melody’s daughter, Rowdy, was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia after presenting to her doctor with a thick, phlegm-like cough and fever. After undergoing a chest X-ray, Rowdy was prescribed medication, fluids and lots of rest. To monitor her wellbeing over night, Rowdy slept next to her mother.

Following Rowdy’s recovery, Melody returned to her normal routine, soon after which she collapsed, marking the start of her personal fight against bacterial pneumonia.

“I was freezing cold and aching all over. My temperature was fluctuating between 39 and 41 degrees Celsius for five days straight. It’s the worst I’ve ever physically felt,” Melody said.

“I was admitted to hospital for a series of intravenous antibiotics after a chest X-ray revealed a bacterial pneumonia infection.

“Since the ordeal, I’ve been running on 70 per cent energy and am taking a minimum six-to-12 month road to full recovery,” said Melody.

http://www.virtualmedicalcentre.com/new ... ated/17599


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