The Health News – 26 April 2016

Overview:
• Victoria has launched a new video campaign, Immunity for Community to remind parents of the importance of vaccinating their children and to encourage people with questions or concerns about vaccination.

• Australian neuroscientists at Macquarie University’s faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Sydney we’re using world-first research on a Zebrafish to find a cure for a fatal hereditary disease, Machado Joseph Disease (MJD) burdening Aboriginal communities.

• Researchers from the University of Sydney and the Sydney and Westmead children’s hospitals found a new virus, parechovirus that put 80 Australian babies in hospital causes developmental delays and brain damage. There is no specific treatment and no vaccine available against parechovirus.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  26th of April 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-24/new-campaign-to-remind-parents-of-importance-of-vaccination/7353642

Victoria has launched a new video campaign to remind parents of the importance of vaccinating their children.

The series of videos, Immunity for Community, aims to encourage people with questions or concerns about vaccination to speak to a medically qualified source such as their GP.

About 93 per cent of Victorian children under five are fully vaccinated, according to the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register.

The Government said while those figures were encouraging, more needed to be done to reach 95 per cent coverage, which is necessary to halt the spread of diseases such as measles.

The first in a series of five videos published online tells the story of Sonny, a six-month-old boy who cannot be immunised for medical reasons.

In Port Phillip, 86 per cent of children under five are fully vaccinated. In the City of Melbourne, the figure is 89 per cent.

At least 14 people were infected with measles earlier this year after an outbreak in Brunswick, in Melbourne’s inner north.

A chickenpox outbreak at Brunswick North West primary school in December affected about 80 of the school’s 320 students.

There has also been an increase in known cases of whooping cough in the state over recent years.

The Government recently introduced new laws which ban unvaccinated children from attending child care or kindergarten.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-23/zebrafish-research-in-bid-to-cure-machado-joseph-disease/7352698

Australian scientists are using world-first research on a small tropical fish to find a cure for a fatal hereditary disease burdening Aboriginal communities.

Machado Joseph Disease (MJD) causes sufferers to lose muscle control and balance before becoming paralysed and dying.

The neurodegenerative disease is found mainly on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory and far north Queensland.

Australian neuroscientists at Macquarie University’s faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in Sydney are injecting the mutant human gene that causes MJD into zebrafish embryos for the first time.

The tropical freshwater fish shares 70 per cent of the same genes as humans.

“Zebrafish are transparent during development and they can absorb drugs that we add to their water, allowing us to treat large numbers of zebrafish to explore the effects of drugs,” Dr Laird said.

The number of people with MJD is expected to climb, with children of sufferers facing a 50 per cent chance of inheriting the disease.

The Machado Joseph Disease Foundation said they dealt with about 100 people with MJD in Australia, but about 650 people are at risk of inheriting the disease.

The foundation said for a long time there was no hope for sufferers.

The zebrafish researchers have said finding a cure would help sufferers worldwide, as well as patients with other neurodegenerative diseases.

They predict they could find a cure within 15 years.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-22/new-virus-can-cause-brain-damage-in-babies/7347612

A new virus that put 80 Australian babies in hospital can cause developmental delays and brain damage, leading doctors have found.

New research, to be presented at the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) Annual Scientific Meeting, found more than half of the babies who had parechovirus in 2013 and 2014, went on to have developmental problems 12 months later.

ASID president Professor Cheryl Jones said parechovirus was a new virus, which doctors knew very little about.

“This study is helping improve our understanding of some of the long-term consequences of infection in children and the results are concerning,” she said.

Parechovirus is spread from person to person by direct contact with nose and throat discharges … droplets … or faeces … of infected people.

There is no specific treatment and no vaccine available against parechovirus.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and the Sydney and Westmead children’s hospitals studied almost 80 babies who were hospitalised with parechovirus Type 3 in 2013 and 2014.

Many of the babies ended up in intensive care, with symptoms including seizures, irritability and physical jerks.

One year later, doctors found half of the children had developmental problems, including speaking and problem-solving.

Nearly 20 per cent of the young children had “significant” neurological problems.

Doctors said the study highlighted the severity of this new virus.

According to the NSW Health Department, the virus usually causes no symptoms, but when illness occurs it is most commonly a mild diarrhoea or respiratory infection.

The disease was identified for the first time in Australia at the end of 2013, when the world’s largest recorded outbreak hit Sydney.

Health officials said anyone could get infected with parechovirus, but babies were at risk of more severe disease.

Professor Jones said the results illustrated how important it was for doctors to remain on alert for emerging infectious diseases.

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