School of Public Health and Community Medicine

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


Integrated Systems for Epidemic Response

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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
Figure 1: NZ’s current strategic pandemic response framework

Improving New Zealand’s preparations for the next pandemic

    Dr Julia Scott, Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Michael Baker University of Otago, New Zealand February 2017 In a globalised world an infectious disease outbreak anywhere is a potential threat to New Zealand (NZ). Recent such threats have included severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), pandemic influenza (2009), Ebola and Zika. In the context of an upcoming University of Otago Wellington Public... more
Infectious diseases workshop at CMC, Vellore, India

Infectious Disease Outbreaks in India- Challenges and opportunities

Chau Bui, Padma Narasimhan, Raina MacIntyre.  October 13th 2016 Recent world events, such as the 2014 Ebola epidemic, have brought public attention to challenges imposed by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The unprecedented scale of the Ebola epidemic demonstrated how severely an epidemic can affect countries with limited health capacity. Travel has emerged as a major vector for... more
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Social media for tracking disease outbreaks - fad or way of the future?

By Raina MacIntyre and Sheng-Lun Yan October 12th 2016   Social media has revolutionised how we communicate. In this series, we look at how it has changed the media, politics, health, education and the law. Infectious diseases kill more than 17 million people every year. Large outbreaks, known as epidemics, are becoming more frequent. And more serious infections have emerged in the past... more
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Smallpox, permafrost, lab accidents and biowarfare - how high is the threat?

  Raina MacIntyre August 30th 2016 Two great leaders of the battle against smallpox have passed away in the last 6 years - Frank Fenner, the chairman of the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication, in 2010, and in 2016, DA Henderson, who was director of the WHO Smallpox Eradication campaign, among other important leadership roles. They were both recognised as pivotal... more
Zika virus in Singapore

Zika virus outbreak in Singapore - cause for concern?

Raina MacIntyre August 29th 2016   Since August 2016, locally transmitted cases of Zika virus have been reported in Singapore. Singapore is a major travel hub and a gateway to Asia, so this is quite concerning.  Zika virus has been documented in several Asian countries since it first emerged in 1951, including Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and  Pakistan, long before to the... more