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EHA : Yearkbook 2009
EHA YEARBOOK 2009 Branch Reports In its pursuit to provide more services to its members, EHA held its second annual Contemporary Food Safety Training Course for EHOs in October 2008. The 2 day course (modified following feedback from the 2007 course) brought together a range of experts from the fields of food policy, food law and enforcement and microbiology and provided a useful introduction to food safety for graduates and a refresher for more experienced EHOs. The course, which was fully booked and attended by EHOs from around the State, was very well received. Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Food SIG membership and in particular the Food SIG Committee for their support and assistance over the past 12 months and remind members that the Food SIG is a resource to be used by members for their and the profession’s benefit – if you have a question ask, if you can provide assistance, please offer. Dieter Jurgeneit MEHA Food Safety Special Interest Group Convenor Communicable Diseases / Immunisation Special Interest Group 1) Communicable Diseases: The main activity for 2009 has been the response to H1N1 ‘Human Swine Flu’. Initial cases of H1N1 were reported in Mexico, on April 6 in the town of La Gloria, where an unknown number of people were infected. By April 24 , the WHO announced that there were around 80 0 suspected cases of H1N1 officially recorded in Mexico, which included 60 deaths suspected to be associated with H1N1. It was then that health authorities around the world were placed on alert because the official death rate of the infection was unknown and based on the above figures, it was tracking at about 7.5%. Fortunately, reliable surveillance data from multiple countries revealed over time that the H1N1 death rate was tracking at a rate closer to around 0.6% which is similar to the seasonal influenza death rate of around 0.7%. In the meantime though, Australia was well into implementing the Pandemic Influenza Response Plans which were recently developed as part of the government response to the H5N1 ‘Avian Influenza’ threat which commenced in 2004. In Queensland, the H1N1 outbreak commenced in May, peaked in the 4th week of July and minimal numbers were being recorded by the 2nd week of September. As of 14 September, Queensland had recorded a total of 175 2 6 confirmed cases, although actual infection rates would be higher due to persons with symptoms not presenting to their GP. Broad comments from the outbreak response include: n Protection of the vulnerable population was the most significant positive public health outcome of the response. n The response certainly slowed the spread of H1N1 and almost certainly reduced the economic impact of a more sudden spike in illness. n Such a large scale ‘real life’ outbreak provided an excellent opportunity to test the Pandemic Influenza Response Plans and provided for areas to be identified for ongoing improvement. n The spread of a highly communicable disease in the community is unstoppable unless ‘aggressive containment strategies’ are used in the first 24 to 48 hours. n In relation to H1N1, where the death rate was 0.6%, ‘aggressive containment strategies’ wouldn’t have been politically or economically beneficial. However when managing a ‘High Death Rate Disease’ (HDRD) possibly like a more communicable form of H5N1, where the death rate is 60% in healthy individuals, then ‘aggressive containment strategies’ would be required to preserve significant loss of human life and to limit significant economic impact. Key area identified for improvement: n In the context of a possible future HDRD, the above experience raises the question: What ‘death rate’ should be set as being the trigger for initiating ‘aggressive containment strategies’ within Australia’s National Disease Management Plans? Determining a ‘trigger death rate’, for implementing ‘aggressive containment strategies’, is regarded as a priority issue for the future of pandemic planning in Australia. 2) Immunisation: Due to the resignation of Don Deutscher as the Immunisation Co-Convenor of the EHA IMM/CD SIG, we are currently requesting expressions of interest from members who would like to contribute to this position. Please contact Jo Rolls if you are interested in contributing or to obtain further information on this role. Paul Clancy MEHA Immunisation/Communicable Diseases Special Interest Group Convenor Queensland Branch (continued)
Annual Review and Yearbook 2008
EHA Yearbook 2010