Australia Quadrupled cases of respiratory virus in Far North Queensland

12:10  08 april  2021
12:10  08 april  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for Queenslanders including updates, how to take action, factual information about the disease and Queensland Health's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A public health alert has been issued for several medical facilities and two domestic flights in Far North Queensland after a Townsville woman tested positive for coronavirus while visiting Melbourne. The woman, aged in her 30s, had travelled to a number of locations in Hyde Park and Pimlico in the past two weeks, before flying to Cairns and Brisbane, then to Victoria on October 7. Mr Miles said the woman "most likely" contracted the virus in Melbourne, but Queensland authorities would be "ultra cautious" and treat the case as though she was infectious while in Townsville, Cairns and Brisbane.

A potentially deadly and highly contagious respiratory virus, normally found in children, is sweeping across far-north Queensland.

The Cairns and Hinterland region has recorded 378 cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) since the start of the year, compared to 88 for the whole of 2019 and 70 in 2020.

The Executive Director of Medical Services at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Services, Dr Don Mackie, said the virus had very similar symptoms to COVID-19, but was usually more severe in children.

"For most people, adults and children, it can be like a common cold… but for some people, particularly the immune suppressed and infants, it can become quite severe," Dr Mackie said.

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Active cases : 38. Latest information from Queensland Health . Authorities hold little concern of community spread from the new case as they focus on contact tracing and increased testing in Cairns and Townsville after it was revealed on Wednesday that a Townsville woman was diagnosed with the virus . Health Minister Steven Miles said health authorities were not any closer to finding where the woman contracted the virus but still believed she "most likely" got it in Melbourne. However, there has also been recent positive sewerage samples found in Townsville, Cairns and Airlie Beach.

The University of Queensland (UQ) is confident it can develop a vaccine for the potentially deadly coronavirus in as few as 16 weeks as four people in NSW and two people in Brisbane are monitored for the virus . Key points: The researchers believe their "molecular clamp" technology can be adapted to the virus . The virus , that's spread from the Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected nearly 830 people and killed at least 25. Dr Daniel Watterson, a senior research fellow at UQ, said the rush was on to develop a subunit-based vaccine. "We've built this technology specifically for this type of response, so

"If it develops into a pneumonia, they can have severe respiratory distress, require intensive care management."

Potentially life-threatening illness

Dr Mackie said 70 per cent of the reported cases in the far-north were children under 10.

In babies under 12 months old, RSV could cause bronchiolitis or pneumonia and be life threatening.

"That's the concern in terms of what we're seeing through the hospital," he said.

The surge in RSV cases has been mirrored across Queensland and other parts of Australia.

Experts said off the back of a year of COVID-19 infections, social distancing and lockdowns, people were back to a normal year with "waned immunity".

"There's a theory that it may be something to do with the way that we worked through COVID last year with the intense focus on hand hygiene and social distancing and so forth," Dr Mackie said.

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Far North Queensland (FNQ) is the northernmost part of the Australian state of Queensland . Its largest city is Cairns and it is dominated geographically by Cape York Peninsula, which stretches north to the Torres Strait, and west to the Gulf Country.

Epidemiological and laboratory investigation of cases , entomological surveys and phylogenetic analysis of dengue virus isolates. Numbers and characteristics of confirmed cases ; Breteau Index (BI; number of containers breeding Aedes aegypti per 100 premises); effect of control measures on mosquito The epidemic virus belonged to serotype 3; phylogenetic analysis suggested it was imported from Thailand. The epidemic had greater morbidity than other recent Queensland epidemics of dengue and was harder to control, necessitating substantial revision of the Dengue Fever Management Plan for North

"Maybe with some of the relaxation of restrictions, it's actually got a hold and run ahead of itself."

In previous seasons, RSV peaked in winter, so Dr Mackie said it was unusual to see a surge at the end of summer.

"It may be a consequence of the changing way that people are behaving over the winter and through into the summer because of COVID," he said.

Many of the new cases have been severe, with 182 RSV presentations to the Cairns Hospital emergency department since January, compared to a total of 33 in 2020 and 27 in 2019.

Queensland's hospital system is under increasing pressure from the growing number of COVID-19 infections among returning overseas travellers, predominantly from Papua New Guinea.

Dr Mackie had urged the public to be mindful of the strain on the region's emergency health services, but warned some of the RSV cases required emergency attention.

"If you see children who are getting blue or severe respiratory difficulty, that is an emergency… that's the high end of the disease," he said.

Anyone showing respiratory symptoms like fever, cough, sneezing, runny eyes and nose, or more extreme symptoms like wheezing, still required a COVID-19 test.

"It may well be COVID, don't just say it's because of the RSV," Dr Mackie said.

Childcare centres are often a hotbed for spreading the virus, which is transmitted in similar ways to COVID-19 through droplets spread via coughing and sneezing, as well as on surfaces.

"The public health team have been working with childcare centres to help remind and support them about appropriate hygiene measures," Dr Mackie said.

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This is interesting!