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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 1

Vertical Transmission, March 2005

This edition of Microbiology Australia contains the announcement of the programme for the 2005 Annual Scientific meeting in Canberra. It looks like an outstanding conference, with many terrific national and international speakers.

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Guest Editorial, March 2005

Viruses provide a fascinating study. They are the simplest living organisms, and self replicating RNA particles (the earliest viruses), were most likely the earliest organisms on Earth able to replicate and hence promulgate their species. They still represent the simplest known living organisms at a molecular level, particularly if viroids and prions are included within the discussion.

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Emerging threats to the blood supply: West Nile virus and beyond

It is now more than 40 years since Sir Macfarlane-Burnet announced to the world that ?one can think of the mid-20th century as marking the virtual elimination of infectious disease as a significant factor in life? (1962). Along similar lines, Jesse Steinfeld, at the beginning of his reign as US Surgeon General, famously said that it was ?time to close the book? on the problem of infectious diseases (1969).

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Blood supply protection: how much is enough?

The delivery and maintenance of a safe blood supply are imperative for Australia?s security and medical advancement. Practices such as the use of voluntary nonremunerated donors (1927), and early coordination to identify optimal testing regimes, e.g. for Hepatitis B virus (HBV) 1975, Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 1985 and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) 1990, have ensured the Australian public are at minimal risk of exposure to unsafe blood. However, the AIDS epidemic did reveal significant flaws and weaknesses in our delivery of a safe blood supp...

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Recent breakthroughs to combat Hepatitis C virus infection

Following the discovery of hepatitis A and B viruses, it was almost certain that a third virus also attacked the liver. The main criteria for this thinking was the fact that, following blood transfusion, hepatitis with slightly different clinical features occurred in patients who were negative for both viruses, hence the disease was known as non-A, non-B post-transfusion hepatitis.

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Correlation between cytomegalovirus disease and antiviral resistance

Disease resulting from human cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections leads to significant morbidity and mortality in patients with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), transplant recipients undergoing immunosuppressive therapy, and neonates.

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Paediatric viral infections and the blood supply

Viral infections in children frequently exert their main effects at mucosal surfaces, such as the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, and do not have significant systemic effects. For example, rhinovirus is found in children with the common cold and asthma; rotavirus is a significant agent in childhood gastroenteritis, and enteroviruses cause a wide spectrum of illness in children and are often asymptomatic. Indeed, experiencing some of these viral infections is considered a normal part of childhood.

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Viruses in the placenta

Many different viruses can infect placental cells and are associated with congenital infection (Table 1). Viruses such as rubella, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and parvovirus are recognised as infectious agents of the placenta and foetus. Herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and enterovirus occasionally infect the placenta and foetus, but are more commonly known as perinatal pathogens. Other viruses such as adenovirus and adeno-associated virus (AAV) have been found to infect the placenta, ...

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Testing algorithms for blood: what should we test?

Ensuring the safety of blood and tissues used for donation has been a priority of government and the health system for decades, and it has been extremely successful. While there are a large number of organisms that may be transmitted by blood transfusion (Table 1), many of these are rare or non-existent within the Australian donor population and the major concerns are hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. These three are present within the Australian donor population, are readily transmitted by blood transfusion, and have the potential to cause ser...

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Testing for antibody in blood: how useful?

Testing for antibody in blood continues to be a useful and essential means of safeguarding public health by ensuring a safe blood supply, determining immune status in vaccinated or previously infected individuals, diagnosis of infection, determination of disease stage and disease monitoring.

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Quality assurance: a benefit or burden?

Quality assurance (QA) is a means for verifying the accuracy of testing procedures, the results that they produce, and the interpretation of those results. In Australia, QA is mandatory for laboratories for accreditation and can therefore be viewed as a burden, providing yet another task in a busy environment. Alternatively, laboratory management and staff can use QA as a beneficial and valuable tool to foster a culture of excellence. The achievements of a well-performing laboratory should be acknowledged, and a supportive and educational syste...

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Biological weapons convention: implementation and responsibilities in the lab

The rising global risk of terrorism and the increasing sophistication of terrorists have raised the potential for misuse of biotechnology. Addressing threats posed by the misuse of biotechnology requires a concerted response at international, national, facility and personal levels. It is incumbent on those in the life sciences to be actively engaged in supporting the government?s efforts in responding to this threat.

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David Ogilvie White

Medical virologist, 30 August 1931 ? 7 November 2004

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ASM Affairs, March 2005

Standing Committee on Biosafety; Standing Committee on Clinical Microbiology; The role of the National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC) in ASM; Announcing a major review of Australian Standard Methods for Water Microbiology: the AS 4276 Series; ASM awards and prizes; Emerging Microbiologists

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