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


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image - Ebola

The ethics of Ebola vaccine trials in a waning epidemic – time to change the game plan and look at serological correlates of protection?

  Raina MacIntyre March 15th 2015 After decades as a neglected, poorly researched disease, the unprecedented 2014 Ebola epidemic resulted in acceleration of research into drugs and vaccines for Ebola. Early predictions were that the epidemic would not be controlled until June or July in 2015 at the earliest, so vaccine trials may have been planned under this assumption. Late in 2014, however, the... more
image - Rainaunsw3

Hepatitis A – an ongoing cause of preventable illness

Raina MacIntyre February 18th 2015   The outbreak of hepatitis A due to contaminated frozen berries in Australia in February 2015 has caused an outcry about food security and food labeling. Managing the risks of imported food, however, is only one aspect of prevention for hepatitis A, and another aspect, vaccination, has gone unnoticed.  Hepatitis A is a common cause of viral hepatitis, which... more
image - Measles

Measles - not going away any time soon.

Raina MacIntyre February 7th 2015 Measles is a serious viral respiratory infection which remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. It’s most serious complications include measles encephalitis and a rare condition called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). In 2012, there were an estimated 122,000 deaths from measles globally. There is a safe and effective... more
File: Image icon Figure 2 - impact of measles control campaign, PDF icon Report on Migrant and Refugee Immunisation - Centre for REsearch Excellence, Image icon Figure 1 - elimination graph
image - Chikc

The puzzle of H7N9 influenza – where did it come from and how is it spreading?

  Raina MacIntyre January 30 2015     Human cases of H7N9 avian influenza began to appear in 2013 in South-Eastern China. The virus has been identified in 2015 for the first time in North America in poultry, and two travel-related human cases occurred in Canada, posing a risk worldwide.  The prevalent assumption is that it has spread from birds to humans, in the same way as H5N1 spread almost 2... more
Ebola health workers

Reinfection with Ebola – is it possible and should health worker survivors use PPE?

Raina MacIntyre December 3rd 2014 Ebola is not well studied, compared to other infections, as I recently pointed out.(1) Lately, case reports, anecdotes and questions have begun to emerge about the possibility of re-infection with Ebola.(2) An aid worker reports “an interesting case of a discharged patient being reinfected when returned to his home where exposure to further viral load probably... more
image - Rainatami

Ebola PPE - updated resources for health workers

By Raina MacIntyre Updated March 8th 2015   This is an update of a previous blog, which I have put up as a new blog to make it easier to find. Many of the key papers and resources are available here. I started this collection because I was being contacted by doctors and nurses from many countries and settings, confused and worried about differing PPE guidelines. To save emailing links to multiple... more
Prof McLaws teaching PPE

Zero risk Ebola PPE: the do’s and don’ts of doffing

    By Professor Mary-Louise McLaws November 13th 2014   Work Health and Safety principles associated with Ebola patient care includes rigorous and repeated training of healthcare workers (HCWs) so that they are competent with putting on (donning) and removal of (doffing) personal protective equipment PPE. Over 500 HCWs have become infected with Ebola, many while using full PPE. It has been... more
California Nurses Association

Health care worker rights and Ebola – why they are striking all over the world

By Raina MacIntyre November 12th 2014 November 2014: In Sierra Leone, health care workers (HCWs) in the only clinic in the town of Bandajuma are striking over their right to a weekly “hazard payment”. (1) Simultaneously, nurses in the US are striking or preparing to strike in protest over perceived lack of attention to their occupational health and safety.(2) In October, following the infection... more
Research on influenza and Ebola

Ebola – the case against expressing scientific uncertainty as certainty

    By Raina MacIntyre October 31st 2014   The worst Ebola outbreak in history has begun affecting countries outside the epicenter, including the US and Spain. Many other countries are dealing with suspected cases, and having their health systems tested with isolation and contact tracing processes.  The message we hear repeatedly is “We know how Ebola is spread”, “Ebola is hard to catch” and “we... more
UNSW Alliance Against Ebola

UNSW Alliance Against Ebola

The students @UNSW did a fantastic job last week to raise funds for MSF Australia through the UNSW Alliance Against Ebola. Details and videos are available on our website: A few years ago, in it's bid to gain a seat on the UN Security Council, Australia gave out AusAID scholarships to African students. Sadly,... more