The Health News – 21 August 2015

Overview:

• A renewed call to recognise Lyme disease came from Parliament House this week, pleasing thousands of people who believe there is no adequate treatment for the tick-borne illness in Australia.

• British American Tobacco has applied to access data collected by the Cancer Council of Victoria from school students covering a range of issues, including where they get their cigarettes from, when they started smoking and how they feel about plain packaging.

• Ward C3 which was a dormant part of the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) has been re-opened, as the city’s hospitals struggle to find space for patients. It is now being used by 10 regular patients waiting to be discharged.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 21st August 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-20/federal-parliament-calls-for-lyme-disease-recognition/6710810

A renewed call to recognise Lyme disease came from Parliament House this week, pleasing thousands of people who believe there is no adequate treatment for the tick-borne illness in Australia.

Sunshine Coast teacher Amy Kennedy, 26, returned from holiday in Thailand three years ago with flu-like symptoms, a full body rash and vomiting.

Her condition deteriorated two months later.

“I woke with severe facial paralysis and doctors initially thought that was Bell’s palsy,” Ms Kennedy said.

“When it became recurring, I went to different specialists and I was diagnosed with Melkersson Rosenthal Syndrome, which is pretty much recurring facial paralysis.”

Ms Kennedy doubted her diagnosis at the time but a year later, suffered a minor stroke and migraine headaches ensued.

Her doctor told her blood samples would be sent to Europe to test for Lyme disease.

Ms Kennedy said the results showed she was a chronic sufferer and could have been cured if the illness had been picked up earlier.

Lyme disease, caused by a bacterial infection from tick bite, can be treated with a course of antibiotics.

Although Lyme disease-causing ticks live in other parts of the world, their existence in Australia is the root of much debate.
..
Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ) president Dr Chris Zappala said people could only contract Lyme disease in Europe, America or South-East Asia.

“The infrequent cases of Lyme disease that we see in this country are generally imported from those who contracted it overseas,” Dr Zappala said.

He is at odds with thousands of so-called “Lyme sufferers” who say the disease does not receive enough attention in Australia and who believe it can be contracted here.

Labor MP Jill Hall this week championed their cause, tabling a motion in Federal Parliament asking for more recognition of the disease. Health News.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-20/cancer-council-fights-tobacco-giant-foi-bid-for-info-on-smoking/6710884

The Cancer Council of Victoria will fight a freedom of information request by a big tobacco company to access information from classroom surveys about young people’s attitudes towards smoking.

British American Tobacco has applied to access data collected by the Cancer Council from school students covering a range of issues, including where they get their cigarettes from, when they started smoking and how they feel about plain packaging.

The information was collected at schools around the state from a survey of students aged between 12 and 17.

The Cancer Council’s Todd Harper said the organisation was concerned the information could be misused.

“The response of children to the initiative of plain packing is a particularly important and rich source of information for tobacco companies,” he said.

“We are doing what we can to ensure that the information that has been collected from school students does remain confidential.”

Mr Harper said the council had gathered about three decades’ worth of data from students about their attitudes towards tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use.

British American Tobacco said it was seeking the data to find out if plain packaging was having an impact on its product.

It said it would not be seeking any personal data or information about children.

A date is yet to be set for the matter before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-20/overcrowded-royal-adelaide-hospital-treats-patients-outside/6710306

A dormant part of the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) has been re-opened, as the city’s hospitals struggle to find space for patients.

Ward C3 used to hold mental health patients, but is now being used by 10 regular patients waiting to be discharged.

The ward’s re-opening comes after more than a dozen patients at the RAH were treated outside of the emergency department in queued ambulances last night. [two nights ago].

Ambulance figures showed all major hospitals were running over capacity overnight.

The incident lasted about three hours and SA Health insisted patient care was not compromised.

SA Health refused to call it a “ramping issue”, instead saying it was “external triaging”.

Ambulance Employees Association state secretary Phil Palmer dismissed SA Health’s terminology of the situation.

“Any time an ambulance is left outside an [emergency department], waiting to get inside the department, that’s ramping,” he said.

“They can call it whatever they like, but it’s ramping.”

Mr Palmer said ambulance staff received text messages … alerting them that every hospital was full.

RAH emergency department doctor Tony Eliseo, who speaks on behalf of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, said the system was under pressure.

“In the last week we’ve had patients, medical patients, having to stay in our emergency departments for longer than 24 hours,” he said.

Health Minister Jack Snelling said emergency departments were performing well under difficult circumstances.

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