In this issue


Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 2

Vertical Transmission, May 2003

Recently I have attended two ASM branch functions; one a student happy hour in South Australia designed to introduce students to ASM, the other was a visit to Perth where I gave a presentation to the WA branch. Both were enjoyable evenings but the take home message for me was that all state branches have progressive and innovative committees. This is without doubt one of the real strengths of ASM. If any member has an idea for the advancement of microbiology or for what ASM can do for its members, then please contact your branch, I can guarante...

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Collaboration and commitment

October 2001 was a demonstration of the ability of the Australian emergency services and microbiologists to collaborate effectively in handling the over 3,000 ?white powder? incidents that occurred around Australia during the first three weeks.

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Bioterrorism: an historical perspective

During the Middle Ages it was recognised that victims of infections could become weapons themselves. Victims of plague were catapulted into the city of Caffa (Feodosiya, Ukraine) and the epidemic of plague that followed forced the retreat of the Genoese forces from the city. Pizarro is said to have given smallpox-contaminated clothing to South American native people in the 15th century. In 1763 it is reportedthat Captain Ecuyer of the Royal Americans deliberately distributed variola-contaminated blankets and a handkerchief to enemy American Ind...

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Australian responses to threats of bioterrorism

Australia has been a ?lucky country?, using Donald Horne?s term from the 1960s, but without his sense of irony. Yet our world is changing fast. The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney provided a time for national celebration. However, before the Games it was not widely known that defence and civil authorities had been working quietly to prepare for any terrorist or bioterrorist incident.

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Bioterrorism: what is the threat?

The usefulness of an agent for bioterrorism depends on a number of factors including the mode of transmission, the infectivity of the agent, its stability and the environmental conditions. If the agent is readily transmissible as an aerosol, then its potential as a bioterrorist agent is greatly enhanced. However, the infectivity of different agents can vary from as low as 0.2 virus infectious units for measles, to 10 for Q fever and tularaemia, 180 for Shigella flexneri, at least 1300 for anthrax, 105 for typhoid, 108 for cholera and 109 for sh...

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Bioterrorism preparedness and the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN)

The anthrax events that occurred in the USA in 2001 demonstrated that bioterrorism remains a real possibility in the modern world. Although Australia was spared the genuine anthrax events, we did experience many hoax events and massive disruption. Biological agents can cause terror not only by the real risk when one is released, but also by the social and economic disruption resulting from credible threats. Laboratory capacity is fundamental to the bioterrorist response and members of the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN) had a major role...

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Smallpox

A wide range of microbial pathogens of humans, domestic animals and crop plants are available as potential agents for biological warfare or, nowadays, bioterrorism. Among those that could be used to produce disease in humans, the smallpox virus is unique in that it produces a very severe disease that is contagious, i.e. transmissible from one person to another.

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The role of the forensic science laboratory

Every incident attended by police in Australia is always initially considered to be a potential crime scene until evidence dictates otherwise. Consequently, forensic science organisational responsibilities typically include: ? The provision of a coordinated multidisciplined scientific field and laboratory response in support of both criminal and non-criminal investigations. ? The effective management of a disaster victim identification (DVI) response to a multi-casualty incident on behalf of the Coroner. In other words, the forensic science mis...

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Australia 2001 and the white powders: the Queensland experience

Starting in Canberra and spreading rapidly around the country from 12 October 2001 onwards, the laboratories of the Public Health Laboratory Network (PHLN) were placed on high alert as the nation responded to a heightened fear of anthrax mail attacks. This manifested itself in an incredible array of samples being submitted to laboratories for analysis and detection of possible anthrax contamination. Laboratory staff were placed under high stress in the performance of this work.

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Biological export controls: defending Australia from WMD proliferation

The current world climate has reinforced the need for vigilance in ensuring that goods originating from Australia are not diverted for use in a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programme. Australia?s export control system plays a vital role in ensuring that we uphold our commitment to being a responsible exporter of defence and strategic goods and that any items exported are consistent with our strategic and security policy objectives.

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Bioterrorism surveillance during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

Surveillance will not discover a bioterrorist attack and, on its own, would be futile in attempting to manage a suspected attack. Lessons from the West Nile Virus encephalitis outbreak in New York in 1999 and the release of Bacillus anthracis through the US postal system in 2001 demonstrate the primacy of clinical diagnosis in recognition.

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The function of the National Chemical Biological and Radiological Working Group

The Tokyo sarin incident of March 1995 was a wake up call to emergency managers around the globe. What had been considered a remote possibility was now a chilling reality. The deliberate use of highly toxic chemical materials on an unsuspecting population was a new issue that now confronted emergency planners.

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The role of DSTO in bioterrorism response

The role of Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in national bioterrorism incident response had its inception in the capability developed to provide for chemical/biological security at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. DSTO is now an integral component in the broader planning and operational support framework to counter chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) terrorism

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Australian Biosecurity CRC for Emerging Infectious Diseases (AB-CRC)

The Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre for Emerging Infectious Disease (AB-CRC) was a successful applicant under the Federal Government?s 2002 CRC programme, and will be formally established from July 2003. The aim of the AB-CRC is to protect Australia?s health, livestock, wildlife and economic resources by developing new capabilities to monitor, assess, predict and respond to emerging and exotic disease threats which impact on national and regional biosecurity. Emerging diseases are defined as those which are novel, previously ...

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ASM Affairs, May 2003

Branch reports; Award nominations invited; Young Bugs Banter

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