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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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

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. Photo Credit:   Infectious diseases kill more than 17 million people every year. Large outbreaks, known as epidemics, are becoming more frequent. And more serious... more

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
Chinenye Okeke

Resurgence of Lassa Fever in West Africa

By Chinenye Okeke  April 29th 2016   While the battle to end the Ebola epidemic raged on in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, another viral haemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever,   was just beginning to take its roots in other parts of West Africa. Lassa fever (LF) is not new to this terrain and like Ebola has been around too long and probably ignored that long too. First described and isolated in a... more
File: Image icon Figure 1 - Estimated Lassa Fever cases and deaths 2013-2016 Nigeria

Thinking about getting the 2016 flu vaccine? Here's what you need to know

Thinking about getting the 2016 flu vaccine? Here's what you need to know C Raina MacIntyre, UNSW Australia and Aye Moa, UNSW Australia Up to one in ten adults and three in ten children are infected with influenza each year. The vaccine we have used for decades, the trivalent vaccine (TIV), protects against three strains of flu. But in 2016, for the first time, the publicly funded vaccine... more
Aedes Aegypti mosquito

Halting the spread of Zika virus – the top 5 questions for public health action.

  By Raina MacIntyre   January 31st 2016   Zika virus is a flavivirus, like dengue and yellow fever, spread predominantly from vector to human, by the Aedes species mosquitoes, particularly Aedes Aegypti.(1)  The efficiency of spread by other Aedes species mosquitoes, especially the more widespread Aedes Albopictus, is uncertain.     It was first identified during mosquito surveillance in 1947... more
image - Public Security Banner

Biohacking, dual use research of concern and open access genetic engineering – democratization of science or dangerous?

    Raina MacIntyre October 3rd 2015 Genetic engineering of pathogens and synthetic genomics (the ability to create synthetic viruses) are a reality. Dual use research of concern (DURC), sometimes referred to as “gain of function research” (GOF) is research intended to benefit humankind, but which can also cause harm, either through laboratory accidents or deliberate release.(1) The controversy... more
Epidemics in the globalized era – lessons not learned about screening, triage and health worker safety and awareness.

Epidemics in the globalized era – lessons not learned about screening, triage and health worker safety and awareness.

    Raina MacIntyre August 21st 2015   Travel is the most important vector for spreading infectious diseases globally. In the 1918 pandemic of influenza, there was a delay of over a year in the pandemic reaching Australia, because sea-travel was the only route to the island continent. The rate of international travel has increased exponentially over the past 70 years(1), with travel more... more