InfectedNZ

InfectedNZ, an online campaign running in November 2016, is set to spread the message about the impacts of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance in Aotearoa New Zealand with a series of data-driven blog posts and social media conversations.

The costs of antimicrobial resistance - Guest Work

Nov 25, 2016

What might the economic costs of antibiotic/antimicrobial-resistant infections be in New Zealand? The simple answer is – we don’t know. As far as I’m aware, there’s been no New Zealand studies publicly disseminated on this topic. Therefore, we have to look overseas for reported studies. While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) stated the total economic cost of antibiotic-resistant infections to the US economy was difficult to calculate, they cited year 2000 estimates provided by the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA), an international non-governmental organisation. Based on ~900,000 cases of antibiotic-resistant infections a year, the APUA estimates ranged as high as US$20 billion in excess direct healthcare costs, with additional costs to society for lost productivity as high as US$35 billion a year. Given the number of cases reported has more than doubled over … Read More

A different approach to developing new antibiotics - Guest Work

Nov 25, 2016

We are nearing a crisis point in our use (and, sadly, misuse) of antibiotics. Indeed, the World Health Organisation recently described humanity as being in “a race against time” to develop antibiotics against multi-drug resistant superbugs. If we cannot find effective new antibiotics soon, we may be faced with a return to the 1920s pre-antibiotic era, where people routinely died of the most mundane things, like a scratch from a rose thorn while gardening. A couple of important contributing factors have been the widespread prescription of antibiotics for patients with viral infections, and failure of patients to complete courses of antibiotics once they start feeling better. Because antibiotics don’t work against viruses, the first scenario does nothing to treat disease but does place all of our hundreds of species of natural gut microbes under a “selective pressure”, such that … Read More

‘Gross us out Miss’: talking about chlamydia and other STIs with young people - Guest Work

Nov 22, 2016

Chlamydia is not a very sexy topic… it should be though, because it’s caught by having sex. It’s surprising how many young people don’t know how common chlamydia is. It’s easy to treat but it’s so much easier to prevent by using condoms when having oral, anal, or vaginal sex. I’m a Nurse Practitioner for children and young people and also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. I work in a general practice clinic where we also provide health services for young people by going into three high schools. Recently I’ve been asking young people about the best way to get information about STIs out to their age group. Chlamydia is a big problem for young people in New Zealand. In 2013 we tested 246 people between 15 and 18 years old who were seeking sexual health care … Read More

Healthy Homes Project - Guest Work

Nov 22, 2016

My name is Nick Pattison and I would like to share with you a citizen science investigation that I was involved in with my previous school Rongomai Primary, called the Healthy Homes Project. The project was created out of conversations between myself and other community members in Otara about the state of local housing in South Auckland, and was magnified at the time by the death of a two-year-old girl in Otara with poor health conditions linked to her damp state home. Something needed to be done. I contacted COMET for support and they provided a wonderful project manager, Dr. Sarah Morgan who helped run the project. She contacted local high schools to see if any would be interested in collaborating with us to have students test their homes to investigate the types and amounts … Read More

The two faces of infectious disease threats: we need to respond to both - Guest Work

Nov 22, 2016

Infectious diseases are far from defeated. They pose a unique health threat because they are caused by living micro-organisms. This biological fact has two important consequences: firstly it means that these micro-organisms are constantly evolving to exploit new ecological opportunities, and secondly they are transmissible (they spread from person-to-person and from infected animals and contaminated environments). The constant evolution of micro-organisms is one of the drivers of emerging infectious diseases. There are more than 1400 species of infectious organism known to cause disease in humans [1]. New emerging infectious diseases most commonly arise from infections in animals [1]. These organisms are also evolving in other ways, including the development of antimicrobial resistance [2]. The net effect is a constantly changing set of emerging infectious diseases which often need an urgent public health response that has to be … Read More

Antibiotic resistance is looming but we can protect the children - Guest Work

Nov 22, 2016

In another life I used to sit on teams that developed something called ‘clinical guidance’. We would draw together published evidence and make recommendations on what best practice should look like. I sat on one such group for rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever (RF) is a disease now seen mainly in developing countries (apart, of course, from the poor pockets of New Zealand where it runs at near epidemic rates). If rheumatic fever is not caught early, it leads to rheumatic heart disease (RHD) that in turn leads to serious heart damage – the sort of damage that can see people die in their late 30s. On this rheumatic fever clinical guidance group that I sat on, I heard a story about the antibiotics that are used to treat the disease. I heard that many of the kids with rheumatic fever … Read More

Living with MRSA - Guest Work

Nov 21, 2016

Parent Tiff Mora shares her experience of living with MRSA, as a contribution to InfectedNZ – an online campaign to raise awareness about infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance.  Wash your hands all you want. Don’t touch things. Clean your cuts and grazes. Be careful all you can… but it won’t make any difference. An open wound will grow; it will cause rashes on your body and your skin to blister and weep. Once it’s in your blood stream, it goes wild, living in there like an uninvited guest crashing your dinner party. It smells. I can smell it a mile away. Doctors laugh at you, but it definitely has its own smell. It stinks and to get rid of it, to try and get it to leave you completely, is like being entrenched in a war where no matter … Read More

HIV prevention in NZ: on a knife edge - Guest Work

Nov 21, 2016

HIV seems like a scourge of the eighties, but today new HIV diagnoses and the costs of medication are escalating out of control in New Zealand. The world’s most dangerous infectious disease epidemic of the modern era is being revived, fuelled by invisibility, indifference and inaction. HIV has a terrifying ability to evolve and evade control when our guard is down. The virus has killed 40 million people worldwide. 2.5 million people contracted HIV in 2015. Three decades later we still have no vaccine and no cure. The fact is HIV is exceptionally well adapted to spread between humans. The virus is transmitted through sexual behaviour and injecting drugs, behaviours that are not easy to change. Infection is often asymptomatic, so people need to be tested to confirm if they have the virus. HIV is most infectious shortly after someone … Read More

Infertility: what’s it all about? - Guest Work

Nov 21, 2016

Infertility is defined as the inability for a couple having regular unprotected sexual intercourse to have a baby. Globally, the rate of fertility is declining but infertility still affects one in seven couples in New Zealand. In general, humans are generally not considered to be an especially fertile species, with a potential capability of 20-30% reproductive success with each menstrual cycle, albeit in a small window of opportunity for fertilisation of 5-6 days within each menstrual cycle. Fertility is highest in women in their 20s, and the rate of fertility declines with age, declining even more rapidly in a woman’s 40s, until the age of 50 where menopause occurs. This is when all of a woman’s eggs are exhausted within the ovaries and reproductive capacity ceases. Women are increasingly delaying childbearing usually due to social and economic reasons. This, coupled … Read More

Infectious diseases in New Zealand - Guest Work

Nov 21, 2016

By Associate Professor Lance Jennings, as part of the #InfectedNZ online campaign to raise awareness about infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. In the context of World Antibiotic Awareness week (November 14-20) and efforts to raise the awareness of infectious diseases in New Zealand, it is useful to include a discussion on viruses.  Although few treatments and vaccines are currently available for their control, the burden of disease in terms of personal affliction, loss of work or school days, hospitalisation and death is substantial. The viruses that cause human respiratory infections provide a window into the wider issues that we are dealing with regarding infectious diseases in New Zealand at present. There are over 150 known respiratory viruses which by and large cause mild respiratory symptoms, the most common of which are the Rhinoviruses which infect the upper … Read More