ProMed mail reports in some of the drier parts of inland Australia (quite removed by distance from Bairnesdale in Victoria), there is a wild legume (_Indigofera_ spp.) containing the toxin indospicine. This plant tends to be more abundant during the wetter seasons in the desert country and/or is a more preferred food of some herbivores at these times.
This toxin can accumulate in the offal and musculature of monogastric herbivores (e.g., horses). If said meat from such animals finds its way into pet food and forms a substantial proportion of the pets’ diet, it causes a non-responsive acute hepatitis.
Indospicine in the diet of equines also causes chronic liver disease and a hepatic encephalopathy condition commonly referred to as “walk-about” disease (not to be confused with the condition of similar cause arising from consumption of hepatotoxic _Crotolaria_ spp. By horses in the wetter tropics and sub-tropics). Affected horses compulsively pace or walk, initially causing dumping of the toes of the hooves (especially rear) and progressive loss of coordination with progression to head pressing and, ultimately, death. Feral horses (of which there are sizeable numbers scattered over the drier inland areas of Australia) and domesticated horses showing early signs of walk-about disease are more likely to find their way to knackeries.
This condition was researched and established in Alice Springs by Dept of Primary Industries and Fisheries and a local private veterinary clinic (in collaboration with CSIRO, Long Pocket Research Station in Brisbane, Qld.) in the early-mid 1980s after a run of very good seasons in the central Australian deserts, and seasonal occurrence of acute, non-responsive, fatal hepatitis affecting pet dogs.
As southeast Queensland experiences one of the wettest springs in years, rural residents are raising concerns about potentially contaminated drinking water after finding poisoned mice in their tanks, as the mouse plague continues to worsen.
Lucy Thackray of ABC reports frustrated landholders are continuing to try to reduce mice populations with rigorous baiting programs, but the problem isn’t showing any signs of slowing.
Louise Hennessy, from Elong Elong in Central West NSW, has issued a warning to other rural residents about potential health implications for humans and animals after finding baited mice in her drinking supply.
She made the discovery when she climbed up her house tank to check a blockage and was immediately overwhelmed by a revolting smell.
“It was so horrifying, I thought it would make a good picture to remind people to be vigilant about their water tanks,” Ms Hennessy said.
“We always filter the water going into our house from the tanks, so for us personally we feel we’ve covered our precautions so we didn’t notice anything with the taste. But the smell of the mice at the top of the tank was so disgusting.”
Dubbo Regional Council’s environment and health officer Simone Tenne said people often did not consider drinking water contamination.
“Rainwater tanks are perceived to be a clean source of drinking water, but they often have frogs in them, insects, a large amount of bird faeces which has come down off the roof,” Ms Tenne said.
“The public health sector recommends people do some form of treatment whether it be chlorination, a bit of acidification or some sort of filtration to avoid getting bacteria inadvertently through drinking contaminated water.”
Ms Tenne said health issues could be triggered by mice in drinking water.
The TGA said the claim had “no apparent foundation”.
Mr Evans announced last week he would run for federal parliament, standing as a Senate candidate for a fringe party set up by former One Nation senator Rod Culleton.
Who knows, he may get some votes: On Saturday more that 1,000 clogged roads in downtown Brisbane to protest against the vaccine as the first inoculations were conducted in the federal capital of Canberra. Vaccines begin Monday in Brisbane.
As a risk communication dude, I am however concerned with the approach being taken by the Australian Capital Territory to win over anti-vaxxers. The Canberra Times reports the ACT government will launch a major public information campaign as part of efforts to counter anti-vaccination messages amid concern vaccination rates could be affected by misinformation. Flyers making false and misleading claims about vaccines have been distributed to households in Canberra in recent days, prompting renewed calls for people to stop undermining public health information.
On Saturday, about 150 people, including some affiliated with far-right groups, gathered near the Carillon on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin to protest mandatory vaccinations – despite no such initiative being proposed.
Ms Stephen-Smith said, “We aim to provide informative, trustworthy and up-to-date advice to the community so they understand the risks of COVID-19, our responsibilities in helping to reduce these risks and where to access healthcare services.
“As the vaccine program rolls out, we will be ramping up our public health information campaign. This will focus on educating Canberrans about the COVID-19 vaccine, where and when they can access it and how they can find factual and reliable information.”
It’s a leader’s duty to inform rather than educate. Further, the proposal reeks of a failed risk communication strategy: If I could only get that one person or group to change their minds, conflict will be removed. By focusing on vaccine opponents, leaders are not paying enough attention to vaccine proponents and the essence of good science. But I’ll let Jimmy Kimmel explain from 2015:
There was this one time, my first wife, the veterinarian, was working as a student in an anatomy lab at the vet college. She gave me a call one evening and said, get here quick, you have to see this.
Off i went and unknowingly strolled into the receiving area at the vet college and there was a newborn Holstein with two heads, and it was alive.
It later died.
A few years later I started a MSc in Philosophy of science. We were talking about Empedocles, and his descriptions of various mutant animals, and I told the class about the two-headed cow.
I argued it was biology and was reporting what he observed, and Iabeled him Empedocles the Empiricist.
The rest of the class snickered and went on with their elaborate, probably drug-induced crazy metaphor-based analysis.
I finished the class but dropped out. Talking shit all day and night is sorta boring.
Channel 7 Toowomba reports a three-week old calf has left some Queensland (that’s the state in Australia where we live) cattle farmers dumbfounded. It was born with not four but six legs, and today it defied the odds and survived surgery to remove the extra limbs.
Rachel Gross of the New York Times writes, the first sign is the smell: smoky, like a campfire, with a hint of urine. The second is the koala’s rear end: If it is damp and inflamed, with streaks of brown, you know the animal is in trouble. Jo, lying curled and unconscious on the examination table, had both.
Jo is a wild koala under the purview of Endeavour Veterinary Ecology, a wildlife consulting company that specializes in bringing sick koala populations back from the brink of disease. Vets noticed on their last two field visits that she was sporting “a suspect bum,” as the veterinarian Pip McKay put it. So they brought her and her 1-year-old joey into the main veterinary clinic, which sits in a remote forest clearing in Toorbul, north of Brisbane, for a full health check.
Ms. McKay already had an inkling of what the trouble might be. “Looking at her, she probably has chlamydia,” she said.
Humans don’t have a monopoly on sexually transmitted infections. Oysters get herpes, rabbits get syphilis, dolphins get genital warts. But chlamydia — a pared-down, single-celled bacterium that acts like a virus — has been especially successful, infecting everything from frogs to fish to parakeets. You might say chlamydia connects us all.
This shared susceptibility has led some scientists to argue that studying, and saving, koalas may be the key to developing a long-lasting cure for humans. “They’re out there, they’ve got chlamydia, and we can give them a vaccine, we can observe what the vaccine does under real conditions,” said Peter Timms, a microbiologist at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland. He has spent the past decade developing a chlamydia vaccine for koalas, and is now conducting trials on wild koalas, in the hopes that his formula will soon be ready for wider release. “We can do something in koalas you could never do in humans,” Dr. Timms said.
In koalas, chlamydia’s ravages are extreme, leading to severe inflammation, massive cysts and scarring of the reproductive tract. In the worst cases, animals are left yelping in pain when they urinate, and they develop the telltale smell. But the bacteria responsible is still remarkably similar to the human one, thanks to chlamydia’s tiny, highly conserved genome: It has just 900 active genes, far fewer than most infectious bacteria.
The Victorian government quickly banned the sale of so-called bath milk, which although labeled as not fit for human consumption, was a widely recognized way for Australian consumers to access raw milk.
What followed was a despicable whisper campaign that the child who died had an underlying medical condition, it wasn’t Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC), farmers were losing access to lucrative markets – anything but the basic and sometimes deadly biology of STECs and everything involving fantasy and fairytales.
The milk was ‘raw’, or unpasteurised, and Ms Jones’ Mountain View Dairy Farm had been selling it as bath milk — a cosmetic product labelled ‘not fit for drinking’.
Ms Jones said she told the officer she would immediately remove the milk from the shelves of local stores.
“And he said to me, ‘No, no, no, don’t do that. You’ve done nothing wrong and all your labelling is right’.”
In hindsight, Ms Jones said this response “was really bizarre” — as was the decision to wait months before telling her about the cases.
But then the health officer told her a three-year-old boy had died after drinking the bath milk.
“It was the most devastating news that you could possibly imagine ever getting,” she said.
“I was mortified, we were doing the raw milk because people wanted it.”
Or because you contributed to promoting BS.
A Gippsland MP, the father of the child who died, and evidence presented to the coroner have all questioned how the cases were managed and suggested other contributing factors were overlooked.
Mark Wahlqvist, an Emeritus professor of medicine at Monash University and former president of the international union of nutrition sciences, said, “Raw milk, unpasteurised milk, is not safe enough to be in the public domain.”
Professor Wahlqvist said he was open to new research but at present, found campaigners for raw milk to be more than unconvincing.
“When people for conspiratorial reasons rather than scientific reasons, think that vaccination is a problem or that pasteurisation is a problem,” he said.
“We have a science communication problem in this country and it needs science leaders.”
Are these guidelines actually going to make fewer people barf and die?
It’s all about the implementation and verification, but that’s expensive and rarely undertaken beyond soundbites.
When Listeria killed seven people in Australia last year, linked to rockmelon (cantaloupe for you North American types) growers acted like it never happened before and just wanted to get product back on shelves.
They should never be cut in half, although all retailers do it, and it’s just greed over public health.
In the fall of 2011, 33 people were killed and 147 sickened from Listeria linked to cantaloupe in the U.S.
Domestic and export sales ceased for around six weeks. It has taken the following two years to regain market share.
To support rockmelon growers and combat foodborne illness risks, Hort Innovation launched a review of all industry food safety practices to strengthen food safety measures and provide training support for the industry.
Delivered by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), the project involved working individually with all Australian rockmelon growers to review and audit current practice and critical control points.
One-on-one food safety consultations with growers, managers and key farm staff also took place.
The project also developed a Melon Food Safety Best-Practice Guide and a “toolbox” for grower use including risk assessment templates, training guides, food safety posters and record sheets to support food safety programs.
A report by the UK Health Protection Agency concluded that 529 patrons paying a ridiculous amount of money for food-porn styled dishes were sickened with Norovirus – this at a restaurant that only seats 40 patrons per night — introduced through contaminated shellfish, including oysters that were served raw and razor clams that may not have been appropriately handled or cooked.
Investigators identified several weaknesses in procedures at the restaurant that may have contributed to ongoing transmission including: delayed response to the incident, the use of inappropriate environmental cleaning products, and staff working when ill. Up to 16 of the restaurant’s food handlers were reportedly working with Norovirus symptoms before it was voluntarily closed.
Last week it was announced that Heston Blumenthal’s scandal-plagued Australian restaurant appears doomed after its landlord and financial backer, Crown Casino, said it had moved to terminate its lease.
The company behind the Dinner by Heston restaurant appointed provisional liquidators just before Christmas. It came just days after it missed a deadline with the Fair Work Ombudsman to pay back staff the millions it owed them for underpayment.
In a statement Crown said due to the appointment of the provisional liquidator “it has taken action” to terminate the lease of restaurant owner Tipsy Cake Pty Limited.
“While this is disappointing, Crown is working to provide assistance to Tipsy Cake employees looking for employment within Crown,” a Crown spokeswoman said. “The provisional liquidator of Tipsy Cake, however, will need to deal with employee matters at the first instance.”
In December 2018, a Sunday Age investigation revealed that Dinner by Heston was dramatically underpaying staff and Tipsy Cake, the company that owned the restaurant, was based in a notorious tax haven.
The investigation revealed chefs at the Southbank eatery regularly worked 25 hours of unpaid overtime a week. That pushed pay down to as little as $15 to $17 an hour, well below the minimum rates of the award, the wages safety net.
The Fair Work Ombudsman soon after launched an investigation.
The spokeswoman said Crown would allow customers who purchased Dinner by Heston gift cards to exchange them for Crown gift cards. No timeframe was provided by Crown on when the lease of one of its high-profile tenants would end.
The move to terminate the lease creates further uncertainty for employees who had hoped that Crown may financially support the restaurant to keep it open.
Crown had provided the business – one of its marquee tenants – with a $750,000 interest free loan. Industry sources said the interest free loan could have been used as a way to lure such a high profile business to the casino, boosting its appeal to visitors
Before Christmas Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said it was disappointing that Tipsy Cake had not resolved the underpayment issue before it went into provisional liquidation.
Accounts for the Dinner by Heston restaurant show it has reported persistent losses since opening in Melbourne in 2015.
The accounts disclosed it was dependent on interest free loans from a related company run through a Caribbean tax haven and Crown Melbourne ‘’to continue operating’’.
But its opaque structure – restaurant owner Tipsy Cake is based on the volcanic Caribbean island of Nevis – made it hard to determine the true health of the business.
The ownership of companies incorporated in Nevis is never disclosed so there is no way to know who is behind companies created there.
But the company has said Blumenthal sold his shareholding more than a decade ago but remained its chef patron and “integral’’ to its operation.