The Health News – 4 February 2016

Overview:
•  Death cap mushroom season has again arrived early in the ACT, with authorities warning the deadly fungus has been found in several locations following recent wet weather. ACT Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said death caps typically began to grow in Canberra from late March onwards, but for the past two years they had been found in February.

• All Queensland hospitals and aged care homes will be forced to regularly test for the potentially deadly legionella bacteria and publicly report results under proposed state laws.

• New South Wales health authorities say they are delighted the state has recorded its highest ever number of organ donations, but the issue still needs to be discussed more in families.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 4th February 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-03/deadly-death-cap-mushrooms-found-in-canberra-season-begins-early/7138204

Death cap mushroom season has again arrived early in the ACT, with authorities warning the deadly fungus has been found in several locations following recent wet weather.

ACT chief health officer Paul Kelly said death caps typically began to grow in Canberra from late March onwards, but for the past two years they had been found in February.

The mushrooms’ early arrival was put down to lower temperatures and heavier than usual rainfall in recent weeks.

Dr Kelly said there were several recent sighting in Canberra’s inner-south, one of which was in Yarralumla.

“The thing with death caps is they can occur anywhere where there are established oak trees,” he said.

“We’re asking people to be on the lookout … and avoid them, and certainly not to touch or eat.”

In the past 16 years, four people have died after eating death cap mushrooms found in the ACT.

In 2012 two people died after eating the deadly mushrooms at a New Year’s Eve dinner party in Canberra, and in 2014 four people were seriously poisoned.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-03/all-queensland-hospitals-aged-care-homes-to-test-for-legionella/7137790

All Queensland hospitals and aged care homes will be forced to regularly test for the potentially deadly legionella bacteria and publicly report results under proposed state laws.

A string of hospitals have recently returned positive results for legionella bacteria, including the Mater Private Hospital and the Wesley Hospital, where a man also died from the bacteria in 2013.

Since the death, public hospitals have been regularly testing, but not publicly reporting. Aged care facilities and private hospitals however were not required to notify the Health Department of a positive result.

“My concern was this lack of transparency, that the testing was being done but the reporting could not be made public because the law didn’t permit that,” Health Minister Cameron Dick said.

“I think that’s a good thing that we know legionella is there and we can respond.”

The legislation, due to be introduced in the first half of 2016, will include penalties for hospitals and aged care homes that do not follow the new rules.

Facilities can be fined up to $24,000 for non-compliance.

John Pearson, 60, died after contracting legionnaire’s disease from a shower at Brisbane’s private Wesley Hospital in 2013.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Doctor Jeannette Young said Mr Pearson’s case was a wake-up call.

Another man died in Hervey Bay hospital in April 2015, where legionella bacteria was discovered.

Authorities are yet to confirm if he contracted the disease at the hospital.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-03/organ-donation-rates-in-nsw-reach-new-heights/7136984

New South Wales health authorities say they are delighted the state has recorded its highest ever number of organ donations, but the issue still needs to be discussed more in families.

Statistics show last year there were 127 people whose organs were donated after their deaths in NSW, a 25 per cent increase on the previous record of 102 donors in 2013.

The donations allowed a total of 379 organs to be transplanted.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said last year was a remarkable one for organ and tissue donation.

Despite the improvement in NSW, an Ernst and Young report commissioned by the Government said Australia currently did not have enough donated organs to meet demand and changes were needed.

The state has previously had one of the lowest organ donation rates in the country, but between 2012 and 2014 it introduced a raft of measures aimed at boosting donation rates.

The measures included scrapping the Road and Traffic Authority’s organ donation registry in favour of moving to a single national registration scheme and training specialist staff in hospitals to have conversations with the families of potential donors.

The NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service’s medical director, Michael O’Leary, said some of those measures appear to be paying off, with NSW now recording the best improvement in donation rates of all the states and territories in 2015.