Date: Mon 8 Jul 2019
Source: Daily Mail [edited]
<https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7223729/Terrifying-highly-contagious-disease-leptospirosis-caused-rat-urine-spreads-HUMANS.html>

At least 50 people have contracted a highly-contagious and potentially life-threatening disease spread through rat urine.  Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease having already claimed the lives of 7 dogs in the last year in inner-Sydney, New South Wales [NSW], but experts said it's now infecting people, Daily Telegraph reported.

University of Sydney professor of veterinary microbiology and infectious diseases Jacqueline Norris said the disease is 'shed out in the urine' and spreads easily from animals to humans. 'We haven't seen this disease in New South Wales in decades so it's a high likelihood there's a common environmental source,' she said. 'You can get direct contact, so directly splashed urine into a mucosal surface like your eye, mouth, or skin. But most frequently it's accessing the same external indirect surface, so out in the environment.'  Symptoms in humans vary, and can range from mild headaches to blood in the urine and skin haemorrhages.  Data from the National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System showed there have been 50 cases of leptospirosis this year [2019] and 144 last year, with most cases originating in Queensland, as the bacteria thrives in warm and humid climates.

A NSW Health spokeswoman said most cases reported are from regional areas 'often in association with floods or mouse plagues'.  'The most effective way to prevent any transmission from infected pets or another source of the infection to humans is for people to wash their hands with soap after touching animals,' she said.  'Keep cuts and scratches covered when there is a chance they could come in contact with animal urine.' Vets have also issued a grim warning for pet owners in Sydney.  Doctor Nima Rahmani, a vet with Vets on Crown Surry Hills clinic, said the dogs likely became infected after drinking contaminated water in Sydney's inner-city.

Potts Point Veterinary Hospital said 2 cases of leptospirosis were diagnosed in the past month in Surry Hills. 'Both dogs only frequented one park, Ward Park on Devonshire St,' it said in a Facebook post.  'Environmental flooding (such as what has happened in Surry Hills due to extensive ground disturbance due to the Light Rail) can saturate the soil and prevent evaporation of urine and the presence of stagnant or slow-moving water can prolong survival of organisms in surface water.  'Peak incidence in dogs in leptospira infected areas often follows periods of heavy rainfall or flooding.'

One dog that died was the unofficial mascot of a local gym. 'It is with a heavy heart we tell you, unfortunately our unofficial club mascot passed away this week. Her owner would like to pass on his thanks to everyone who sent their wishes of good will whilst she was in intensive care,' they wrote on social media.  'Losing a fur child is like losing a child -- so our heart goes out to his owner in this sad time.'  [Byline: Charlotte Karp and Sahil Makkar]
Date: Mon 1 Jul 2019 3:44 AM
Source: 7 News [edited]
<https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/healthmedicine/flu-deaths-in-nsw-reach-57-as-cases-surge-over-30000-c-192457>

Flu deaths in NSW [New South Wales] have surged past 50, as outbreaks continue to hit the most vulnerable and impact emergency departments across the state.

To date, a total of 32 236 people have been diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed flu, according to the latest data from NSW Health.

This is almost twice the total number of flu cases recorded in all of 2018.

The latest weekly Influenza Surveillance Report shows there were 4617 flu cases for the week ending [23 Jun 2019], up from 4101 notifications the previous week.

To date, there have been 57 influenza-related deaths.

Last week alone [week of 24 Jun 2019], 7 people died of flu-related illnesses, with most of the deaths recorded among the elderly.

Emergency departments are also being impacted by the high number of flu cases. There have been more patients presenting to NSW emergency departments so far in 2019 than in any other 6-month period.

Health authorities are urging people to get vaccinated before visiting the elderly and to stay home if they are ill.

In the year [2019] to date, there have been 87 confirmed flu outbreaks in aged-care facilities, 12 of which were reported last week.

"The elderly are highly vulnerable to influenza and the flu jab is critical to reducing the risk of visitors catching the virus and bringing it into aged-care homes," said NSW Health Director of Communicable Disease, Dr Vicky Sheppeard.

"If you are unwell with the flu, stay at home and minimise contact with other people if possible, especially those who are particularly vulnerable, such as the elderly until you have recovered."
=======================
[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Australia:
<http://healthmap.org/promed/p/186>]
Date: Wed 19 Jun 2019
Source: ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News, Central Coast [edited]
<https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-19/salmonella-outbreak-sees-chickens-culled-on-nsw-egg-farms/11224046>

The poultry industry on the New South Wales central coast is on high alert after the detection of a rare strain of salmonella on 3 egg farms.

The outbreak has so far affected 11 properties in NSW [New South Wales] and Victoria since last year [2018], and has sparked numerous supermarket egg recalls during that time.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries [DPI] said all affected properties were linked through the movement of people, eggs, or equipment.

The salmonella were detected at one Mangrove Mountain property in March [2019], and another 2 in May [2019].

It is understood thousands of chickens and eggs were destroyed and there was no risk to public health.

Raw eggs contain salmonella but the bacteria are killed when an egg is properly cooked.

A NSW DPI spokesman said strict bio-security measures had been stepped up across the central coast plateau, including enhanced monitoring and surveillance activities.

The response to prevent the potential spread of the bacteria has been unsettling for a region devastated by a major outbreak of Newcastle disease 2 decades ago.

In 1999, nearly 2 million chickens were slaughtered, and the entire ridge quarantined to eradicate the virus. Pet birds were included in the mass cull and it took more than 10 years for the local industry to get back on its feet.

Central coast farmers said while the salmonella outbreak was nothing like the Newcastle disease emergency, it had made "everyone nervous".

The egg industry's peak body Australian Eggs said the impact on farmers could not be underestimated.

"Some of the farms on the central coast were not the largest farms in the industry, so I'm sure it was a significant number of birds but not the largest by any means ... you can only imagine that's had an enormous impact on the farms affected," Australian Eggs managing director Rowan McMonnies said.

He sent a warning to all local farmers that "the threat is very real".

"I encourage other egg farms to assume their neighbours have been impacted even if they haven't, to ensure at the end of the day they're going to be protected. It's a new challenge for some parts of the egg industry but at the same time I think it's a necessary one."

The NSW Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said the Newcastle disease emergency had prepared local producers well for any bio-security threat.

She said she was happy with how the situation had been handled. "Our security measures are in place and the communications are all there and the farmers have been co-operating very closely with the Department of Primary Industries about bio-security and awareness conversations and prevention and risk management," Ms Tesch said.

"We haven't had any recalls in our community ... we've had no health impacts."

Australian Eggs estimated the overall salmonella outbreak had cost the industry tens of millions of dollars, with the financial burden placed solely on farmers.

While the central coast's major chicken processors stressed the bacterium was only confined to the egg industry, they introduced what has been described as extraordinary precautions to safeguard their businesses.

They have told the ABC even stricter bio-security measures should be enforced. "Some parties are suggesting [stricter bio-security] should be considered but as it stands there are many, many risks in egg farming and this is one of them and it's falling on industry to manage it," Mr McMonnies said.

Australian Eggs was quietly confident the outbreak had been stabilised but said it may never be known how the bacterial strain got into Australia in the first place.

"Stabilising it is a huge achievement," Mr McMonnies said. "We now have to ensure it stays stable and through that work towards eradication, no set timeframe but it's generally not going to be as quick as anyone would like."  [Byline: Mary-Louise Vince]
=======================
[Chickens and other poultry (ducks, turkeys) can carry germs like _Salmonella_. After you touch a bird, or anything in the area where birds live and roam, wash your hands so you don't get sick!

"Poultry might have _Salmonella_ bacteria in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks), even when they appear healthy and clean. The bacteria can get on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live and roam. Germs also can get on the hands, shoes, and clothes of people who handle or care for poultry."

"People can be infected with _Salmonella_ bacteria when they put their hands or equipment that has been in contact with poultry, in or around their mouth. Children younger than 5 years are more likely to get sick because their immune systems are still developing, and they are more likely to put their fingers and other objects into their mouths.

"People can also get sick without actually touching a bird. Germs on your hands can spread easily to other people or surfaces. That's why it's important to wash hands immediately with soap and water after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.

_Salmonella_ can contaminate the inside of eggs before the shells are formed. Egg shells may become contaminated with _Salmonella_ from poultry droppings (poop) or the area where they are laid.  (<https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellapoultry/index.html>)

- Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 deg F (71 deg C) or hotter.
- Make sure that foods that contain raw or lightly cooked eggs, such as hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, and tiramisu, are made only with pasteurized eggs.
- Eat or refrigerate eggs and foods containing eggs promptly after cooking. Do not keep eggs or foods made with eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature is 90 deg F (32 deg C) or hotter.
- Wash hands and items that came into contact with raw eggs
-- including counter tops, utensils, dishes, and cutting boards -- with soap and water. (<https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellaeggs/index.html>)

Adults older than 65 years, children younger than 5 years, and people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or an organ transplant, may get a more serious illness that can even be life threatening.

In most cases, illness lasts 4-7 days and people recover without antibiotic treatment. Symptoms include: diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps

Symptoms typically appear 6 to 48 hours after eating a contaminated food, though this period is sometimes much longer. Some people can have diarrhea many times a day for several days and the sick person may need to be hospitalized.  (<https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellapoultry/index.html>)

Vaccination as part of a _Salmonella_ control program contributes to the achievement of _Salmonella_ free poultry meat and eggs. Live and inactivated _Salmonella_ vaccines are available.
(<http://www.safe-poultry.com/vaccines.aspx>)

Vaccination against _Salmonella_ protects chickens from:
- infection or re-infection through vermin and the environment;
- infection from contaminated feed;
- spread of an undetected infection;
- spread of infection in the hatchery, mainly in the hatchers. The offspring of vaccinated birds are protected by maternal antibodies;
- spread of infection in a flock where a few chickens are not protected.

This a very serious disease for the birds and for the producers. There is nothing quite as heartbreaking as watching your animals euthanized because of a disease. In the cause of poultry producers, it is their livelihood. It can also be deadly to consumers.

Don't track it back!!
Biosecurity is extremely important. Don't visit poultry farms, and if you must, then disinfect your boots, gloves, and aprons prior to entering the premises and again on exiting the premises. It may also mean washing your vehicle and especially disinfecting the tires. Wash your hands before entering the premises, between barns or yards, and after leaving. Wash and disinfect any equipment you may have taken into the premises with you, or that you take off of the premises.

Do not add birds at this time! If you must depopulate a barn or premises, then be sure it is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, including airducts in some facilities, prior to restocking.

We wish these producers the best and hope the outbreak is over very quickly. - ProMED Mod.TG]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of New South Wales, Australia:
<http://healthmap.org/promed/p/4184>]
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2019 06:44:54 +0200

Sydney, June 10, 2019 (AFP) - Australian police said Monday they were scouring bushland for a Belgian teenage tourist missing in a popular surf town for more than a week.   Theo Hayez, an 18-year-old backpacker, was last seen on May 31 at a hotel in the coastal tourist town of Byron Bay -- some 750 kilometres (470 miles) north of Sydney -- New South Wales state police said.   "We have a large amount of resources searching... in bushland that is towards the east and northeast of the town," police Chief Inspector Matthew Kehoe said in a statement.   "We are advised that this disappearance is completely out of character for him."   Police said they were alerted to his disappearance on Thursday after he failed to return to a hostel he was staying in.   Hayez's passport and personal belongings were all left at the hostel, and police believe he had not made any financial transactions since his disappearance or used his mobile phone.
Date: Tue, 28 May 2019 07:59:01 +0200

Sydney, May 28, 2019 (AFP) - Sydney on Tuesday announced its first major water restrictions in a decade, putting limits on homes and businesses amid a record-breaking drought.   The New South Wales government said the greater Sydney region water catchments were experiencing some of the lowest flows since the 1940s, and that the restrictions would be enforced from next week.   "Regional NSW has been experiencing a record drought," the south-eastern state's minister for water Melinda Pavey said in a statement.   "Water restrictions in Sydney mean that households across NSW are doing their bit to conserve water.   People in Sydney can be fined up to Aus$220 (US$150) or businesses up to Aus$550 for leaving a hose running or using a sprinkler system to water their gardens.   Australia sweated through its hottest-ever summer from last December to February.

The country's water management was a hot-button issue in the recent election following mass fish kills in the Murray-Darling River system, which authorities blamed on low water flow and oxygen levels.   Scientists said the severe drought plaguing inland eastern Australia had contributed to the deaths.   Australia is no stranger to extreme weather patterns, with bushfires, floods and drought often occurring during the summer months.   Sydney last had water restrictions in place in 2009, when all major cities imposed usage caps amid a severe drought, which had lasted for more than a decade in some parts of the country.
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