Current Articles


Vertical Transmission

When I, a fresh young medical graduate, announced my decision to specialise in pathology my senior colleagues were impressed, because pathology is a 9-to-5 job that pays well. However, when I added that I was planning to sub-specialise in microbiology, they questioned my sanity. Didn’t I know that infectious diseases had been conquered by the twin forces of immunisation and antimicrobials?

Roy Robins-Browne     03-Nov-2016
Microbial diseases of travel

The November 2016 special issue of the Microbiology Australia is the first joint one with the Microbiology Society of the UK. Deciding on an appropriate theme for this issue, the 'Microbial Diseases of Travel' was a relatively straightforward task and a direct 'fallout' from the geographical distance that separates our two societies. In the recorded history of mankind, travel has been one of the most effective means of disseminating infectious diseases throughout and among different populations. Explorers carried with them, many infectio...

İpek Kurtböke and Laura Bowater     03-Nov-2016
Travel and tuberculosis

Australians frequently travel to countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis (TB). What risk does TB pose to travellers and what can be done to mitigate this risk?

Christopher Coulter     04-Oct-2016
Avian influenza. Why the concern?

Avian influenza normally has little impact on poultry and wild birds but since 1996, highly virulent viruses have emerged and continue to circulate in many countries. The results of these viruses have been devastating in domestic poultry and they have also spilled over into humans, infecting and killing hundreds and raising the opportunities for the virus to further adapt and possibly cause a future influenza pandemic. This article briefly details these events and discusses the consequences of these viruses continuing to circulate and cause dis...

Ian G Barr and Frank YK Wong     22-Sep-2016
Dengue and the introduction of mosquito-transmitted viruses into Australia

Dengue virus outbreaks involving 100s of cases periodically occur in north Queensland, the area of Australia where the primary mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti, occurs. This article summarises the ecology, history, current situation and control of dengue virus transmission in Australia and examines the threat posed by newly emergent arboviruses, such as Zika and chikungunya viruses.

Andrew F van den Hurk     22-Sep-2016
Pregnancy, the placenta and Zika virus (ZIKV) infection

Zika virus (ZIKV) infections have been recognised in Africa and Asia since 1940. The virus is in the family Flaviviridae and genus Flavivirus, along with Dengue, Japanese encephalitis virus, Tick borne encephalitis, West Nile virus, and Yellow fever virus. These viruses share biological characteristics of an envelope, icosahedral nucleocapsid, and a non-segmented, positive sense, single-strand RNA genome of ~10kb encoding three structural proteins (capsid C pre-membrane/membrane PrM/M, envelope E), and seven non-structural protein...

William Rawlinson     29-Sep-2016
From zero to zero in 100 years: gonococcal antimicrobial resistance

The threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria has been escalated to a rightful seat on the global health agenda. In September 2016, for only the fourth time in United Nations (UN) history, the UN General Assembly in New York will meet to focus on a health threat – antimicrobial resistance. Other diseases afforded this level of consultation at the UN were human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), non-communicable diseases and Ebola virus. There are grim predictions for the future in terms of AMR and health security that span income s...

Monica M Lahra, Jo-Anne R Dillon, CR Robert George, David A Lewis, Teodora E Wi and David M Whiley     05-Oct-2016
Foodborne disease associated with travel

The most important determinant of developing foodborne disease is travel destination. The risk is proportional to regions where there is a high level of unsanitary water supply, lack of food hygiene, lack of food safety regulation, fluctuating electricity supply and lack of education. In medium to high risk regions a travel kit, designed to prevent, minimise or treat the effects should be carried.

Prue Bramwell     03-Oct-2016
Australia’s biosecurity procedures and preparedness

There is sometimes concern expressed in Australia and other countries that we do not specifically test imported food for the presence of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria. How significant is this threat and how do the biosecurity measures taken by Australia address these?

Mark Schipp     22-Sep-2016

Global surveillance and response to the threat posed by infectious diseases

The international spread of infectious disease has long been recognised. As early as the 14th century, even though the microbial aetiology of communicable diseases was not understood, international travellers were kept in quarantine to prevent the spread of diseases such as the plague. In modern times, the ready availability of international air travel and other forms of rapid transport has made containing the spread of disease even more of a challenge.

Alan P. Johnson and Joanne Freedman     03-Nov-2016

A spotlight on Bluetongue virus?

In the late 1990s, there were rumblings that Bluetongue virus (BTV) was on the move. The 2006 summer outbreak changed the way that the European economic and scientific communities viewed its importance. It shifted from being a neglected disease confined to the tropical regions of the world to a potentially important threat to agriculture. Suddenly, BTV was sharing research priorities and the limelight with other important viruses of animals such as foot-and-mouth disease virus and avian influenza virus....

Meredith Stewart     03-Nov-2016

Chytridiomycosis as a cause of global amphibian declines

Amphibians are remarkable creatures that have inhabited the Earth for over 350 million years, and exhibit some of the most amazing and diverse life histories. The planet is home to around 7,500 species of amphibian, which occupy an extraordinary number of ecological niches. They are often viewed as indicators of environmental health by ecologists due to their reliance on both aquatic and terrestrial environments to complete their lifecycles. Furthermore, their thin and highly sensitive skin, where much of their respiration occurs, makes them hi...

Thomas J. Burns, Mark S. Greener and Paul A. Hoskisson     03-Nov-2016

Cracking the genetic code of our cities: researchers around the world aim to map the urban genome

It is rare to say that one has lived through a revolution, but we are all living through one right now. High-throughput sequencing technologies have become cheaper and more cost-effective over the past decade, moving even faster than Moore’s Law for computer power (doubling every 18 months). Because sequencers are modern-day 'molecular microscopes', scientists believe that we are currently experiencing a scientific revolution similar to the one sparked by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek’s invention of the world’s first light micros...

Sofia Ahsanuddin, Ebrahim Afshinnekoo and Christopher E. Mason     03-Nov-2016

Globalisation of antibiotic resistance

Travel always spreads disease. Bubonic plague reached Turkey in 1347 via the Silk Road, following an outbreak in 1330s China. By 1348, it raged in Italy, shadowing the gaiety of Boccaccio’s Decameron. By 1351, half of Europe lay in plague pits. One hundred and fifty years later, the conquistadors took smallpox to the Americas, decimating local populations. They returned – many believe – with syphilis, which ‘enjoyed’ its first European outbreak in 1495 among Charles VIII’s army, then besieging Na...

David M. Livermore     03-Nov-2016

The Great Pox

The 3rd of August 1492 marked the start of one of the most significant periods of global exploration, travel and migration. Setting sail from Palos on the Portuguese coast, Christopher Columbus, sponsored by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, headed westward bound for the Canary Islands. From the Canaries, Columbus continued his voyage. Thirty-five days after setting sail, he reached the Bahamas. His first landing point, on a small island, known as San Salvador, was used by Columbus as a base to explore and map the islands of this New ...

Laura Bowater     03-Nov-2016

The voyages of Zika virus

The announcement in May this year from the World Health Organization, that the Zika virus outbreak that began in October 2015 in the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa was an American variant of Zika virus, confirmed that Zika has now circumnavigated the world.

Derek Gatherer     03-Nov-2016

Volume 37 Number 4

03-Nov-2016

Feature Product

Seven Modern Plagues

Seven Modern Plagues

Learn how today's plagues first developed and discover patterns that could help prevent the diseases of tomorrow.

Feature Product

Evolution in a Toxic World

Evolution in a Toxic World

A groundbreaking approach to understanding toxics and health.

The Australian Society of Microbiology

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Feature Product

Guide to Mosquitoes of Australia

Guide to Mosquitoes of Australia

Provides a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to the mosquitoes of Australia and key strategies for managing them.