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Swine flu

Swine influenza (also called swine flu, hog flu, and pig flu) is an infection of a host animal by any one of several specific types of microscopic organisms called “swine influenza virus“. A swine influenza virus (SIV) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is usually hosted by (is endemic in) pigs.[2] As of 2009, the known SIV strains are the influenza C virus and the subtypes of the influenza A virus known as H1N1, H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3. Swine influenza is common in pigs in the midwestern United States (and occasionally in other states), Mexico, Canada, South America, Europe (including the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Italy), Kenya, Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and other parts of eastern Asia.[2]

Transmission of swine influenza virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always cause human influenza, often only resulting in the production of antibodies in the blood. The meat of the animal poses no risk of transmitting the virus when properly cooked. If transmission does cause human influenza, it is called zoonotic swine flu. People who work with pigs, especially people with intense exposures, are at increased risk of catching swine flu. In the mid-20th century, identification of influenza subtypes became possible, this allows accurate diagnosis of transmission to humans. Since then, fifty confirmed transmissions have been recorded, Rarely, these strains of swine flu can pass from human to human. In humans, the symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.

The 2009 flu outbreak in humans, known as “swine flu”, is due to a new strain of influenza A virus subtype H1N1 that contains genes closely related to swine influenza.[3] The origin of this new strain is unknown. However, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reports that this strain has not been isolated in pigs.[4] This strain can be transmitted from human to human,[5] and causes the normal symptoms of influenza.[6]

Pigs can become infected with human influenza, and this appears to have happened during the 1918 flu pandemic and the 2009 flu outbreak.

For the rest of the wikipedia entry go to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swine_flu

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A new study has revealed an explosion in weight loss surgery procedures in Western Australia over the past two decades.

The study by the University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health is published in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia.

It found there were 20 times more bariatric procedures, such as gastric banding, performed in 2004 than in 1988.

Sixty-four-year-old Pamela Vigers was an acute diabetic who weighed 116 kilograms. She lost 40kg after surgery and says it has changed her life.

“I don’t take insulin or any type of diabetic medication, the diabetes is totally under control because I can exercise now,” she said.

Researchers say while the study focussed on WA, the increase is indicative of a national trend.

The study’s co-author Fiona Smith says much of the rise can be attributed to the worsening obesity problem.

“Certainly we found that some of the rise in the surgery can be attributed to the increasing population prevalence of obesity,” she said.

“There are other likely factors though – things like increasing publicity and awareness of the surgery.”

Ms Smith says the research also found the surgery is safe.

“There was relatively few complications recorded and very little difference in survival outcomes between the bariatric surgery patients and the general population,” she said.

Australian Medical Association national president Rosanna Capolingua says the surgery has improved over the past two decades.

“Certainly there have been improvements in this sort of surgery over that period of time,” she said.

“Laparoscopic surgery is now available. It is safer, it is a more realistic option.”

But Ms Capolingua says surgery should only be used as a last resort.

“It is an appropriate treatment after other methods of weight loss have failed and in certain groups, [for example] patients with a BMI over 35.”

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Aged care providers are calling for urgent action to redress a critical shortage of registered nurses.

Anglicare says while the number of high-needs-residents requiring greater medical care has increased, the new funding mechanism from the Commonwealth has effectively cut the budget of many nursing homes.

Anglicare’s Di Flecknoe-Brown says lower pay rates and a high workload in aged care are exacerbating the shortage of registered nurses, and not-for-profit aged care providers cannot match the pay offered by public and private hospitals.

“If we haven’t got the right funding as the structure that underpins everything we cannot provide any of the resources that are needed properly,” she said.

“Our money supply is not a bottomless pit and to look after people properly they have to have people who can look after them and those people need to be rewarded and remunerated appropriately.

“Many of these people would have been kept in private hospital beds or public hospital beds.

“In real terms they’re not just residents, they’ve become patients, because they have complex wound management, behavioural management, depression, they’ve got Alzheimers, they’ve got senile dementia or they’ve had a major stroke, or a physical disability and all of that requires a multi-disciplinary team to look after them.”

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The Greater Western Area Health Service says there is no increased risk of gastroenteritis in local nursing homes, despite a possible outbreak in the Blue Mountains that affected 80 people and claimed 10 lives.

Health authorities are investigating the cause of the outbreak that doubled the death rate at the Endeavour Nursing Home in Springwood.

Greater Western Area Health Service’s manager of population health, Dr Tony Brown, says there have been a few outbreaks at some of the more than 100 nursing homes in the region.

“But we haven’t seen any more cases, or bigger outbreaks than usual,” he said.

“They come and

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Health Budget targets hospitals, Indigenous gap

Posted Tue May 13, 2008 7:35pm AEST

The Rudd Government’s first Budget has allocated $10 billion for a Health and Hospitals Fund to support investment in health facilities, equipment and research.

The Government will scrap the previous government’s Health and Medical Infrastructure Fund. The new fund will use part of surplus revenue.

More than $334 million will go towards closing the 17-year life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Over $101 million of that will be used to address maternal and child health issues in Indigenous communities and $21.5 million will boost health services in the Northern Territory.

The Budget includes $1 billion to relieve pressure on public hospitals and $3.2 billion to address problems in the public health system, such as long witing lists.

Up to $600 million over four years will go towards reducing elective surgery waiting lists in the states and territories.

The Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot says the Government will also spend $138.9 million over five years to encourage thousands of nurses to return to the workforce, providing conditional cash grants of up to $6,000 for those who go back to work.

Queensland will get $100 million to train doctors.

Health initiatives

Thirty-one planned GP Super Clinics, which aim to bring together GPs and other health care providers, have been given $275.2 million.

They were part of Labor’s election commitments to rural and regional Australia.

The Government has also given $25.6 million over four years for health checks for all four-year-old children.

New mothers at risk of depression in the year after pregnancy have been allocated $55 million, with the states and territories asked to give a further $30 million.

Over $780 million has been allocated to dental health initiatives, including $290 million over three years for the State and Territory Governments to fund additional dental consultations.

The fight against binge drinking has attracted $53.6 million and another $15 million will go towards reducing smoking rates, with a further $14.5 million targeting smoking in Indigenous communities.

A total of $62 million will be spent on programs to help Australians avoid preventable illnesses, with a special focus on nutrition and activity scheme to fight obesity.

Aged care

Ms Elliot says $293.2 million over four years will provide an extra 2,000 transition places for elderly Australians who have left hospital.

“The Government, working closely with senior Australians, state and territory and local governments, and the aged care industry, will reform the aged sector to meet changing Australian demographics,” she said.

The Conditional Adjustment Payment (CAP) will be boosted from 7 per cent to 8.75 per cent of the basic aged care subsidy, bringing total Commonwealth investment in aged care subsidies to $28.6 billion over the next four years.

All Australians turning 50 between 2008 and 2010 will be given a free bowel cancer test as part of a $87.4 million program over three years.

The Government had already announced it would raise the Medicare levy income thresholds from $50,000 a year to $100,000 for single people and from $100,000 to $150,000 for couples.

The Government says it will boost the Medicare compliance program, increasing audits on Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) services, to ensure practitioners are billing correctly.

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A $10 billion health infrastructure fund was the jewel in the Rudd government’s health budget tonight, while $2.6 billion was slashed from areas including including mental illness, dental health and nursing training.

The Health and Hospitals Fund, which will draw its initial $10 billion from surpluses in this year and next year’s budget, will replace the Howard government’s $351.7 million Health and Medical Investment Fund.

Additional funding may be taken from future surpluses.

The fund, to be established by next January 1, will invest in hospital infrastructure, medical equipment and major medical research facilities.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the fund underlined the government’s commitment to Australia’s long-term future.

“We have no intention of hoarding the strong surplus for its own sake,” he told parliament.

“This money is not ours, it belongs to the Australian people.”

Mr Swan said the fund will be managed by the Future Fund board of guardians and projects will be subjected to “rigorous assessment” by independent bodies.

The government boosted spending on public health by $3.2 billion over five years.

It also will also make more half-a-billion of cuts to programs it considers to have been under used in areas including training, research, pathology and mental health.

Some $780.7 million has been allocated to slash public dental waiting lists and provide dental check-ups for teenagers, however chronically ill people will no longer receive $491.4 million in funding for dental treatment.

Some $600 million will be directed to tackling elective surgery waiting lists in public hospitals but more people are expected use the public health system after changes come into effect that make it easier for people to drop private health insurance.

The government expects to lose almost $300 million in revenue as a result of lifting the Medicare levy surcharge threshold from $50,000 to $100,000 for singles and from $100,000 to $150,000 for couples.

About $53 million will dedicated to tackling binge drinking. However, an advertising campaign initiated by the Howard government warning of the the links between illicit drug use and mental illness will be dropped.

The government will slash almost $170 million from training for enrolled nurses while spending $39 million to encourage nurses to return to the work force.

More than $845 million will be dedicated to listing new medicines on the PBS, including drugs for kidney disease complications and migraines.

After demands from parents, the government has agreed to subsidise the cost of insulin pumps for people aged under 18 with type 1 diabetes from November this year, at a cost of $5.5 million over four years.

The budget also delivered on the government’s election promise to build 31 GP Super Clinics, at a cost of $275.2 million.

The government will spend $4.6 million on getting an extra 600 medical students to undertake part of their training in rural and remote communities

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Excellent program tonight on the ABC about Carers and the life time struggle that they have in front of them.

Here is the link to the ABC website:

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/default.htm

Here is the NSW DOCS response to a lot of the claims in the programme:

http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2008/s2241992.htm

One (thinking outside the box) suggestion to help the situation:

Perhaps Aged Care facilities could establish seperate wings for the young that need constant care. They could set up separately from the Aged Care and have permanent and respite beds for those carers that need a break. These wings wouldnt be integrated with the Aged Care Units, but run as seperate Units.

What does anyone else think about this and will the first Labor budget tomorrow night fix any of the problems?

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Online search may risk health

By Darren Osborne December 31

AUSTRALIAN research has found that people searching the internet only take in what they want to read, potentially placing their health at risk.

The research, conducted at the University of NSW (UNSW), found that people are inclined to maintain their beliefs, even if they find contrary information.

“Our research shows that, even if search engines do find the ‘right’ information, people may still draw the wrong conclusions – in other words, their conclusions are biased,” UNSW Professor Enrico Coiera, said.

The results, which have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, also revealed that where the information appears in search results, and how much time a person spends looking at it, affects how people perceive it.

“The first or the last document the user sees has a much greater impact on their decisions,” Professor Coiera said.

The implications are significant, particularly as more people search for answers to their health questions on the internet.

“We know that the web is increasingly being used by people to help them make healthcare decisions,” Professor Coiera said.

“There can be negative consequences if people find the wrong information, especially as people in some countries can now self-medicate by ordering drugs online.

“Australians can order complementary medicines online and these can interfere with other medications. This means that providing people with the right information on its own may not be enough.”

To help people make sense of the information which they are presented with, Professor Coiera and Dr Annie Lau have developed a new search engine interface that they believe breaks down cognitive biases.

“The new search engine interface we have designed could be a part of any search engine and allows people to organise the information they find, and as a result organise their thoughts better,” he said.

“Often by going through things in a slightly more organised way it becomes pretty obvious what the answer really should be.”

While the research was conducted in the area of health, Dr Coiera said the technology could be applied to other fields such as climate change.

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