A POTENTIALLY lethal tick infection newly identified in Australia has mysteriously emerged on the NSW south coast.
Doctors have revealed the first reported Australian case of human babesiosis, a tick-borne infection that carries a 5 to 10 per cent fatality rate, higher than the death rate from the most common tick bite infections.
The victim was a 56-year-old man from the south coast who died, it is thought, partly as a result of babesiosis.
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His infection was discovered only by chance, when his blood samples were re-checked four months after he had been admitted to Canberra Hospital with serious injuries after a car crash in November 2010.
In a report published today in the Medical Journal of Australia , doctors say the infection probably contributed to his death from multi-organ failure last April.
The report of the first babesiosis case in Australia thought to have been locally acquired had raised ”intriguing questions” about how the infection is spread in Australia, the lead author of the report, Sanjaya Senanayake, of the Australian National University, said.
The likely host or carrier would be a rodent. In the US, where babesiosis has been a not uncommon problem in recent years, the infection tick is carried by the white-footed mouse.
This the a bit different from the Off Deadline column in today’s print edition. The editors took out the joke about vitamin C, and I’ve put it back in.
Psst! Wanna know a secret? The environmentalists don’t want you to hear this, but corals eat sewage. Really. They love the stuff. The Maui Wastewater Working Group held 13 meetings to convict treated sewage put down injection wells of killing reefs. It’s too bad they didn’t take a field trip to the Central Laboratory at the Kihei Wastewater Treatment Plant to see some effluent in action. Such visits are discouraged by the health monitors, but my wife does the testing and I’ve watched her. There are several tests, but the relevant one for injection wells puts a sample of treated wastewater – the PC name for sewage – through a centrifuge, which deposits whatever sewage is left on circles of glistening white filter paper. Filter is the key word here. Corals (and marine worms and lots of other reef critters) are filter feeders. The Kihei and Lahaina plants make R1 effluent, the good stuff, while Kahului makes R2, not as clean. Usually, when the plant is functioning well (which is most of the time), on most of the discs I cannot tell any difference between the clean and the sampled filter paper. On a few, there may be the faintest brown tinge. It takes a magnifying glass to tell sometimes.