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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Hope for a magic bullet for elderly vaccines?

By Raina MacIntyre Director, NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Immunisation of Special Risk and Understudied poppulations   June 22nd 2015   Vaccinology as a discipline has arisen from paediatrics, with a great wealth of expertise and champions in infant vaccination.  Over time, more and more adult vaccines have become available, with influenza, pneumococcal, tetanus and most recently... more
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Controversies in emerging infections today – the round up on MERS, Avian influenza, Ebola and governance of epidemic response

  The round up on MERS, Avian influenza, Ebola and governance of epidemic response By Raina MacIntyre June 14th 2015 MERS coronavirus In South Korea, the epidemic of MERS coronavirus has caused over 126 cases and 15 deaths, being the largest epidemic to date outside of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.(1)  This is the first time since the infection emerged in humans in 2012 that a satellite epidemic... more
Dr Mohammed Alpha Jalloh

West African voices on Ebola 5:Reflections: 21 days of Ebola Trauma from a Land far away: Near Misses or Plain Paranoia

Dr Mohammed Alpha Jalloh April 12th 2015 This past 2014 Australian summer university break saw me travelling thousands of miles from Sydney, to the United States of America (USA). I went to spend a much-needed Christmas holiday at the US, staying with my elder brother’s family of five, residing in Virgina. At the time of my travels, the weather was freezing cold, with falling snow painting every... more
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West African voices on Ebola 4: The unsung African heroes of Ebola

  Walton Beckley   April 10th 2015 It is a little over one year since the Ebola virus disease outbreak was officially declared in West Africa. There is now great hope that if the recent gains achieved are sustained, the epidemic would have been contained in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea by the middle of 2015. With over 25 000 reported confirmed cases and over 10 000 reported deaths, the crisis... more
Punishing parents who refuse vaccination by withdrawing government benefits – is it effective public health?

Punishing parents who refuse vaccination by withdrawing government benefits – is it effective public health?

Raina MacIntyre won the Public Health Association of Australia National Immunisation Achievement Award in 2014, and has worked for >20 years in vaccines. She was also involved in evaluating the impact of parental financial incentives for vaccination when they were first introduced. Conflicts of interest: Raina MacIntyre's salary and position are through UNSW, and are not controlled by... more
Ebola virus

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
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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
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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
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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