School of Population Health

GO VIRL - Infectious Diseases Blog


In outbreaks and other situations, there is a need for reliable rapid communications and for the ability to tap into relevant expertise. This need is not well served by peer-reviewed publications because of the slow turn-around time. At UNSW, we are well placed to provide such a service, as infectious diseases epidemiology is a major area of research strength. We teach major courses and degrees in infectious diseases, and are involved in leading international research in this field. I have started this blog for rapid, topical information on infectious diseases, with a focus on outbreaks, emerging infections, epidemiology, vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases. I am committed to responsible blogging, which means all posts are by people qualified to write about the particular topic, or that blogs will be reviewed by relevant experts where required. All contributions are welcome, and will be reviewed/moderated. Comments on blogs are moderated.

Professor Raina MacIntyre


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Smallpox today - tapping the knowledge of Dr Mike Lane, former CDC Director of Smallpox Eradication

By Raina MacIntyre November 22nd 2017   Eradicated in 1980, smallpox is listed as a category A bioterrorism agent and remains a focus for planning and preparedness globally. In most of the decades since eradication, security concerns have been primarily around theft of stockpiles of smallpox from the only known two repositories in the word in the United States and Russia. This changed in 2002,... more
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“Just, Wash ‘em!” – YouTube and Hand Hygiene Promotion: Entertainment, Education or Entertainment-Education?

By Kathryn Lim 20 October 2017  Hand hygiene and its contribution to helping prevent the spread of infectious disease is far from what could be considered as an entertaining topic. Despite being recognised as one of the most important strategies for preventing the spread of infection during patient care, compliance with hand hygiene practices by health care workers is variable and needs... more

Superbugs and storytelling: how do we get the message across about antimicrobial resistance?

By Sophie Newsome, 12 October 2017. What does the word ‘superbug’ mean to you?   It’s a media buzzword relating to one of the world’s critical health issues: antimicrobial resistance. But despite a worldwide response headed by the World Health Organization and a spate of newspaper headlines, current efforts aren’t making a large enough dent in a problem that is projected to kill 10 million... more
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How bad IS the flu in 2017 in Australia?

    How bad IS the flu in 2017 in Australia?   Aye Moa and Raina MacIntyre 25 September 2017, updated 1 November 2017   Influenza has been documented since January (inter-seasonal period), with the season beginning in May and a rapid rise in cases in early June 2017. A severe influenza season is continuing in Australia as of September, but  with decreasing flu activity reported nationally towards... more
A child receiving polio vaccine

Eradication of polio – Is Syria being left behind?

Mohana Kunasekaran 16 May 2017 Eradication of polio – Is Syria being left behind? Since 2013, after a 14 year absence and more than six years after the Syrian civil war began, another hostile threat has been emerging in the conflict zone.  “We thought it was the flu or just one of those fevers she gets all the time. We kept going to the doctors and the pharmacy and tried different things. We... more
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WannaCrypt, My Health Record and new frontiers in health security

  Raina MacIntyre 15th May 2017   The largest ransomware attack in history has crippled the NHS in the last few days, and hospitals worldwide have increasingly been targeted for hacking. In the NHS, as a result of the hack, not only were patient records inaccessible and patient care dangerously disrupted, but surgery cancelled and ambulances diverted. The full impact on the lives and health of... more
The ISER team at the World Congress of Public Health 2017

An unprecedented rise in novel influenza viruses and an entertaining pandemic scenario with a deadly serious message

Raina MacIntyre April 5th 2017   The world has seen an increasing frequency of serious epidemics such as MERS coronavirus, Ebola, avian influenza and Zika virus in recent years, more than any time in history. We have also shown  in a new paper in the Archives of Public Health that the rate of new influenza viruses infecting humans is higher than ever. This in turn increases the risk of a pandemic... more

Banning unvaccinated kids from child care may have unforeseen consequences

Raina MacIntyre March 14th 2017 The federal government’s push for all state and territories to ban unvaccinated children from child care is a coercive measure that may disadvantage working parents and their children, and may have other unintended consequences. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says unifying how different state and territories handle access to child care is needed to boost... more
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Financial control of your health and wellbeing – from vaccine coercion to genetic testing of employees. A slippery slope?

Raina MacIntyre March 12th 2017 I am a strong advocate for immunization and have worked in this field doing research to improve protection of populations by vaccination, for over a quarter of a century. I have previously written about coercive measures to increase vaccination rates and outlined my arguments against this approach. For my sins I was shouted down by public commentators in an... more
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Is there really an epidemic of ice, obesity, diabetes and bomb threats?

By Raina MacIntyre March 2nd 2017 Every day when you check the news, you read of a new epidemic. An epidemic of ice, diabetes, obesity, antimicicrobial resistance or some other pressing problem. I searched the news today and came across the following new "epidemics": tooth decay, prescription pain pills, carer abuse, bomb threats and distracted driving.  Journalistic misuse of the term is... more