Australia – NSW – Measles alert

NSW Health is warning people to be alert for signs and symptoms of measles, after three infectious cases have been notified in the Christmas-New Year period.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness which begins with a cough, fever, sore, red eyes and runny nose, followed three to four days later by a red spotty rash which begins on the face and neck and spreads to the rest of the body.

People who are experiencing signs and symptoms of measles should seek medical attention. NSW Health recommends calling ahead to the practice or emergency department to alert of them of your symptoms, so that measures can be taken to limit your exposure to others upon your arrival.

Symptoms usually begin to appear around 10 days after exposure to an infectious case, however the time from exposure to onset can be as long as 18 days.

Update 3 January 2019

A child visiting from overseas developed measles symptoms while visiting NSW on Christmas Eve. Prior to being diagnosed with measles and isolated the child visited the several locations. People who were at these locations at the same time as the child may be at risk of developing measles up to January 18:

Thursday 27 DecemberChatswood Medical and Dental Centre, 7 – 8pm
Thursday 27 DecemberChatswood Mall, including Chemist Warehouse, late afternoon
Friday 28 DecemberOakvale Winery, Pokolbin, 5 – 6pm
Saturday 29 DecemberDinner at Bimbadgen Winery, Pokolbin, 6:30 – 8pm
Sunday 30 DecemberChatswood Medical and Dental Centre, 3-4pm
Monday 31 December- New Year’s DayRoyal North Shore Emergency Department, 11pm – 1am

Australia – ACT – Update on measles in the ACT

The individual is in isolation at the Canberra Hospital and in line with the national guidelines, Health Protection Service staff are currently contacting people who have been in contact with the person.

Dr Kelly said this was the first case of measles to be notified in the ACT in 2019.

“We believe the individual is likely to have acquired the infection from the measles case reported in the ACT in mid-December,” Dr Kelly said.

“As the person did not attend any public venues or events in the ACT whilst infectious, we are advising the community that there is minimal risk of exposure to the general public.

“Contacts with the individual have been able to be identified and ACT Health staff are following-up with these people directly.

“As the individual travelled in NSW between Christmas and the New Year, we are working closely with NSW Health, who are also providing information to their local communities,” Dr Kelly said.

As Measles can be highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised, ACT Health is taking the opportunity to reiterate important health advice on measles and to know the symptoms. These include a fever, tiredness, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed up by a rash.

Anyone with symptoms of measles should seek medical advice, advising their health care provider before they arrive so that appropriate infection control precautions can be put in place to stop the spread of the infection.

People generally develop symptoms 7-18 days after being exposed to a person with infectious measles, with 10 days being more common. People are infectious from 4 days before they develop a rash until 4 days after.

The virus is spread from an infectious person during coughing and sneezing or through direct contact with secretions from the nose or mouth.

Whenever a case of measles is identified in our community, it is a strong reminder that the best way to protect yourself and your family against measles is vaccination.

Two doses of Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) are required for immunity against measles and are given to children in Australia at 12 and 18 months of age. However, the vaccine can be given at any age after 9 months.

With many travelling over the holiday period in the next few weeks, we are encouraging people to check their immunisation status and get up to date if needed before travelling.

For further information about measles, visit the ACT Health website.

Study – Big data and technology in disasters: Better integration needed for effective response

In a recent review article published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, a group of Johns Hopkins’ authors evaluated 113 studies using predetermined criteria with the final search taking place on May 1, 2017. Search terms were created in consultation with medical librarians and subject matter experts in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), big data, and disasters. Only articles that implemented ICT and big data tools in real life were considered. (Table 1).

Disasters are becoming more commonplace and complex, and the challenges for rescue and humanitarian organizations increase. Increasingly these groups turn to big data to help provde solutions. The authors wished to examine how ICT tools and big data were being used in disaster responses. By conducting a structured literature search and developing a data extraction tool on the use of ICT and big data during disasters they showed that some important gaps exist which should be part of a future research focus.
Credit : Copyright: © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc.

A data extraction tool was developed by subject matter and included the following items; first author and year, data type, disaster type, country. (Table 2).

The literature review identified some important gaps: more information is needed on the use of technologies. Most articles discussed the use of ICT in natural disasters which were mainly hurricanes and earthquakes. What was underreported was data on extreme temperatures and flooding, even though these events account for 27% and 26% of global deaths respectively.

Copyright: © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc.

According to first author Dr. Jeffrey Freeman, “Disasters are inherently a Big Data challenge, and with the ubiquitous nature of cell phones, the rapid spread of connectivity, and the rise of technologies like the Internet of Things, the challenge is only going to get bigger. In disasters, the key question we face today is how do we harness a growingly diverse and often chaotic wave of data and information. Simply put, we’ve got to handle more data than we’ve ever had, and do so more quickly and effectively than we’ve ever done before. Big Data and ICT pose a serious challenge in disasters, but they also hold promise for potential solutions. The answer to leveraging the massive amounts of data that ICT is creating is likely to be found within the very same technologies driving the Information Age. But we have to think creatively about adapting and adopting these technologies in emergency situations. Disasters leave little room for trial and error. The consequences are too great.”

According to Dr. Dan Barnett (coauthor on the paper) “As a researcher of public health emergency preparedness and response systems, I’ve watched closely as the rate of innovation has frequently outpaced adoption in this field. If we are to be effective in responding to disasters and other public health emergency situations, we need to do a better job figuring out how technology can be integrated into disaster response.

In embarking on this integrative literature review, we knew information and communications technology (ICT) was present in disasters, and we knew people were using related technologies, but we didn’t know much else. As researchers, we wanted to more clearly understand how Big Data applications and ICT solutions were being used, and more importantly, we wanted to know where things went right and where things went wrong. These kinds of insights can move the state of the science forward, and ultimately, allow us to achieve a more effective response to disasters.

Technology and disasters have had a tenuous relationship. For those of us in the field, there has been a growing recognition that technology holds promise for enabling disaster response, but we’ve also watched as even the most basic of technologies, like phone service and electricity, has been crippled during the acute phase of a disaster. Technology holds little value in disasters if unavailable when it’s needed most. If we can understand more clearly how people want to use Big Data and ICT in disasters, then we can focus our efforts on ensuring those technologies are resilient and reliable under any circumstances.”

Report – Chronic Disease After Natural Disasters: Public Health, Policy, and Provider Perspectives

Chronic Disease After Natural Disasters: Public Health, Policy, and Provider Perspectives

Source:Columbia University, Earth Institute, National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP)

Date Published: 11/27/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: The purpose of this 46-page report is to provide public and private stakeholders, especially at the state and local levels, with a resource to help them better understand and support the needs of individuals with chronic conditions, and the post-disaster burden on chronic diseases. It highlights the strengths and weaknesses that have been experienced or are anticipated in current approaches to this issue, and makes recommendations that include increasing the focus on the needs of these patients during the disaster recovery phase.


Issue Paper – Enhancing the Resilience of Victims After Terrorist Attacks

Enhancing the Resilience of Victims After Terrorist Attacks

Source:European Union, European Commission

Date Published: 3/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: This 21-page issue paper looks into the resilience of victims and the broader society after a terrorist attack, and proposes how this can be strengthened, building upon the experience and advice of victims from past attacks. It discusses the importance of looking at the variety of reactions displayed by victims and society alike after an attack has taken place, and to explore the key principles when it comes to psychosocial care.


Gap Analysis – Understanding the Shortfalls within Radiation Preparedness

NACCHO/RITN Gap Analysis: Understanding the Shortfalls within Radiation Preparedness

Source:National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)

Date Published: 10/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: This nine-page document, published by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and Radiation Injury Treatment Network (RITN), provides information about a project to identify and understand the gaps that exist in public health, health care, and radiation control regarding outreach, training, and programmatic activities, and in turn create recommendations to address identified gaps. It provides a table of recommendations and the root causes of gaps that aligned to recommendations.  


Report – Public Health and Climate Change Adaptation Policies in the European Union

Public Health and Climate Change Adaptation Policies in the European Union

Source:World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe

Date Published: 11/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: This 174-page report from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe and the European Commission summarizes a joint 18-month project to analyze developments in health policies to address adaptation to climate change in European Union countries and to compile a selection of good practice case studies. Several specific areas for technical improvement can be identified from the results, especially overall strengthening of capacities to ascertain the climate-sensitive disease burden in populations.


Guide – Communicating Climate Change: A Practitioner’s Guide

Communicating Climate Change: A Practitioner’s Guide

Source:Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

Date Published: 12/2018

Annotation: This 68-page guide to communicating climate change offers tips for practitioners to effectively communicate climate change and climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions, with a focus on convincing people of the need for immediate action. It discusses evidence on the broader public health costs and public harms caused by climate-related emissions, such as the health effects of air pollution.


Guidance – Health of Refugee and Migrant Children: Technical Guidance Source:World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe

Health of Refugee and Migrant Children: Technical Guidance

Source:World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe

Date Published: 12/18/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: This 44-page document, part of a technical guidance series produced with the European Commission on the health of refugees and migrants, presents policy considerations for promoting refugee and migrant children’s health and well-being, and particularly their mental health. It includes an intersectoral approach that targets risk factors at the individual, family, and community levels. It emphasizes the important role of national/local governments in fostering or hindering equitable living conditions for refugee and migrant children in the areas of housing, healthcare services, and education.


Transcript – Summary of ACL (Administration for Community Living) Stakeholder Discussion: Opioid Public Health Emergency

Summary of ACL (Administration for Community Living) Stakeholder Discussion: Opioid Public Health Emergency

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living (ACL)

Date Published: 3/7/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: This seven-page document summarizes a conference call that described the Administration for Community Living’s issue brief on the opioid public health emergency as part of a series of issue briefs that promote independent living in the community for older adults and people with disabilities. A table details the discussion themes, which included dual diagnosis, prevalence of opioid use, treatment strategies, and unintended consequences.