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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 4

Vertical Transmission, November 2005

An ASM member wins the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for microbiology research done in Australia; it doesn?t come any better than that! Congratulations to Professor Barry Marshall (University of Western Australia) and his colleague Dr Robin Warren for their seminal contribution in showing that a previously unknown bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, was the major cause of peptic ulcer disease.

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2004 Boxing Day Tsunami

This issue of Microbiology Australia focuses on the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and the experiences of those directly involved in the initial response and in the assessment, clinical care, laboratory support and public health responses. The contributions reflect the experiences of professionals from different disciplines who describe their role in this event. The varied perspectives provide a context for the laboratory contribution.

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The Asian tsunami ? the first days of the Australian response

In the Indian Ocean in the early hours of the morning of 26 December 2004, an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter Scale lifted a 1200km stretch of the earth?s plate up by 20m. This caused a massive movement of water which hit the Sumatran coast, 250kms away, in less than 1 hour. Sequentially, it swallowed islands and coastlines, overall affecting 13 countries, including Indonesia, India, Malaysia, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Its destructive pathway reached as far as Somalia, Africa. By the evening of 27 December, the...

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The Asian Tsunami: Initial medical response to Banda Aceh

Following a disaster, it is necessary to facilitate an appropriate response. However before any appropriate response can be made, it is essential to get an accurate assessment.

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The Asian tsunami disaster: emergency management aspects

While the threat of terrorism cannot be underestimated, the recent Asian earthquake and tsunami disaster demonstrates the awesome nature of large natural disasters in generating mass casualty and infrastructure destruction

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Epidemic surveillance following the Asian tsunami

The December 2004 tsunami which originated less than 250km off the coast of Sumatra devastated the shorelines of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, and other countries even as far away as Africa. It is a potent reminder that the populated parts of the Australian coast and our Pacific neighbours are also at risk. The experience from the Asian tsunami can provide valuable lessons in preparedness and response.

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The army laboratory response

At the request of the Indonesian government, the 1st Health Support Battalion was given the task of providing immediate medical support as part of the Australian government program of humanitarian relief following the tsunami that devastated areas of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on 26 December 2004.

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Initial civilian laboratory response

Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia?sAceh Province, was the closest major city to the epicentre of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated large parts of southeast Asia on 26 December 2005.

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Establishment of L3 (field reference laboratory)

Due to structural damage, decimation of skilled laboratory staff, and loss of critical supplies, laboratory capabilities after 26 December were essentially nil in Banda Aceh, the city centre of Aceh Province. On 15 January 2005, staff from NIHRD and NAMRU-2 were jointly given the task of establishing a reference laboratory on the grounds of the Aceh provincial health laboratory unit (Labkesda Aceh) in response to the direct need for laboratory resources. This reference laboratory, known as L3, was funded by USAID.

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Reopening a hospital laboratory in Banda Aceh

Medical team GOLF departed Melbourne on Australia Day bound for Banda Aceh. This was an AusAID initiative coordinated by Emergency Management Australia (EMA). The group of 24 was the seventh Australian government team sent to tsunami devastated areas. The team consisted of surgeons, anaesthetists, nursing staff, paramedics, environmental and public health experts and a laboratory team, comprising Dr Geoff Hogg (pathologist), Kay Withnall and myself. Our brief was to provide public health and medical support to communities affected by the tsunam...

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Transition and beyond in the laboratory

Following the deployment of the emergency Australian medical teams, in early March Interplast Australia and International SOS were contracted to provide and manage an Australian-Indonesian medical team to assist the general hospital in Banda Aceh reestablish services and provide on-the-job training. The size of the team varied between 20 and 26 members over the months of the contract. The majority were Indonesian who, with their experience of working in Indonesia, knowledge of the health system, language skills and cultural sensitivity, were es...

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The microbiology of the tsunami

This article will discuss these two microbiological aspects of the tsunami. The results from the first 3 weeks of the deployment of the Australian microbiology laboratory will also be presented and the published literature on infectious diseases associated with the tsunami will be reviewed.

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Tetanus post tsunami: Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Tetanus is preventable disease through effective immunisation. The tsunami in southeast Asia, with its heavy toll of trauma cases, was an important reminder that outbreaks of tetanus can affect all ages in susceptible populations.

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Public health response to disasters

The laboratory can often provide the essential link between environmental factors, disease and appropriate medical intervention. Laboratory processes have the capacity to identify causative organisms in samples which have been obtained from both humans (e.g. faeces) and the environment (e.g. water). Following any disaster, the potential for occurrence of disease is increased at a time when medical facilities may be damaged and the demands for medical services increased. The identification of the causes of disease are essential in any circumstan...

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ASM Affairs, November 2005

Conference report ASM 2005: 25-29 September, National Convention Centre, Canberra; Conference report ASM 2005; Becton-Dickinson Student Awards 2005

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