The Health News – 27 January 2016

Overview:
•  Australian virologists say the mosquito-borne Zika virus, linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil, has already been discovered in Australia in travellers returning from South America. 

•  Heavy smoke from the blazes in Tasmania’s North West spread across Gippsland this week and moved into Melbourne early yesterday morning, causing the air quality to drop. The Environment Protection Agency has rated the air quality in Geelong and Footscray and Alphington as being unhealthy for children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with heart or lung conditions.

• Dr Julie Fleet from the University of South Australia has found nasal spray with the painkiller drug fentanyl is as effective as pethidine injections, which are commonly used in childbirth.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 27th January 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-26/zika-virus-detected-in-australians-returning-from-south-america/7115568

Australian virologists say the mosquito-borne Zika virus, linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil, has already been discovered in Australia in travellers returning from South America.

However, for the virus to spread, it would need the right species of mosquito to act as a vector.

So far only one such mosquito is present in Australia — the Aedes aegypti mosquito — which is found only in far north Queensland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued new advice warning Australians, particularly pregnant women, to reconsider plans to travel to 22 countries affected by the virus, including many in South and Central America, and the Pacific island nation Samoa.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-26/melbourne-air-quality-drops-after-smoke-from-tasmania-bushfires/7114810

Melbourne’s air quality has dropped to unhealthy levels in some areas after smoke from the Tasmanian bushfires has travelled across Bass Strait.

Heavy smoke from the blazes in Tasmania’s North West spread across Gippsland [this week]… and moved into Melbourne early …[yesterday] morning, causing the air quality to drop.

The Environment Protection Agency has rated the air quality in Geelong and Footscray and Alphington as being unhealthy for children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with heart or lung conditions.

However officials said the air quality across the city was expected to improve throughout the day.

Senior forecaster Scott Williams said the smoke was at its worst at 3:00am [yesterday], but it had now started to disperse.

“It’ll dissipate during the day but some of that smoke continues to push north-westwards,” he said.

“It’s even got up as far as Bendigo and Mangalore. As the day heats up, any residual smoke should disperse fairly well.”

He said the smoke spread was unusual.

“I can only remember smoke from Tasmanian fires coming to Melbourne and Victoria substantially on one other occasion and that was back in January 2001,” he said.

“I think from recollection the fires were on King Island rather than the Tasmanian land mass so certainly it has happened but it’s rare.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-21/nasal-spray-developed-for-women-in-labour/7103034

Women could soon have the option of using a nasal spray for pain relief during childbirth following recent trials by an Adelaide-based midwifery researcher.

Dr Julie Fleet from the University of South Australia has found nasal spray with the painkiller drug fentanyl is as effective as pethidine injections, which are commonly used in childbirth.

Fentanyl is commonly used as a nasal spray for pain relief in children because it is less invasive and does not require needles.

Dr Fleet said the spray had fewer side effects for both mother and baby.

Fentanyl nasal spray was trialled at the Gawler Hospital, which has since started offering it as a pain relief option for women.

The Women’s and Children’s Hospital is expected to introduce the spray as well.

A study of the trial found more than 80 per cent of the women who had fentanyl said they would use it again.

Dr Fleet said women could self-administer a controlled dose of the nasal spray under a midwife’s supervision.