Issues Magazine

Articles about infectious disease

Aussie Mozzies Not Dangerous? Let’s Swat That Myth!


Australians tend to think of our “home-grown” mosquitoes as annoying rather than dangerous. That’s a mistake, according to one of Australia’s best-known mosquito experts, Dr Cameron Webb, an entomologist based at the University of Sydney.

It’s true that dengue fever, arguably our best-known mosquito-borne virus, is now well-established in Queensland’s tropical Far North. But dengue owes its higher national profile less to locally transmitted infections and more to the fact that many of the 1238 cases recorded by Aussies this year are holiday mementos, mainly from Indonesia.

Learning from Forgotten Epidemics

By Ian Townsend

One of the premises of pandemic plans is that the public will cooperate with authorities. How well we cooperate with quarantine and rationing, queuing at surgeries and being ordered to stay at home will determine how well the country copes.

A panic had set in and people from the infected area were hurrying to be inoculated. The crush was dreadful and the crowd fought and struggled. [When injected] … the men shouted and swore and they charged out like mad bulls. The women didn’t scream, [but] hung about on one another’s necks and wept softly, wondering if they were going to die. – The Bulletin, March 31, 1900

Sneezing Leads To Wheezing: Microbes Important in Asthma

By Christiana Willenborg & Sacha Stelzer-Braid

Asthma symptoms can worsen for a range of environmental and occupational reasons. At least half of all asthma exacerbations are caused by respiratory viruses, but there are microbiological causes too.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the airways. It is often difficult to diagnose as the symptoms (wheeze, difficulty breathing) are common to other illnesses such as respiratory tract infections and obesity. “Viral-induced wheeze” and cough are common in young children with respiratory infections, but is not necessarily caused by asthma.

Vets Versus Pets: Methicillin Resistance in Animals and Their Doctors

By Darren Trott, David Jordan, Mary Barton, Sam Abraham & Mitchell Groves

Humans and animals intimately sharing the same environment will inevitably be exposed to each other’s microbiota. When one of those organisms is a drug-resistant pathogen, disease prevention gets complex.

Staphylococcus aureus is responsible for a wide range of opportunistic infections in both humans and animals. In humans, infections with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), which first appeared in the 1960s, have traditionally been acquired in hospital.