SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: New South Wales

203

Most commercially available therapeutic honey is derived from flowering Leptospermum scoparium (manuka) plants from New Zealand. Australia has more than 80 Leptospermum species, and limited research to date has found at least some produce honey with high non-peroxide antibacterial activity (NPA) similar to New Zealand manuka, suggesting Australia may have a ready supply of medical-grade honey. The activity of manuka honey is largely due to the presence of methylglyoxal (MGO), which is produced non-enzymatically from dihydroxyacetone (DHA) present in manuka nectar. The aims of the current study were to chemically quantify the compounds contributing to antibacterial activity in a collection of Australian Leptospermum honeys, to assess the relationship between MGO and NPA in these samples, and to determine whether NPA changes during honey storage. Eighty different Leptospermum honey samples were analysed, and therapeutically useful NPA was seen in samples derived from species including L. liversidgei and L. polygalifolium. Exceptionally high levels of up to 1100 mg/kg MGO were present in L. polygalifolium honey samples sourced from the Northern Rivers region in NSW and Byfield, QLD, with considerable diversity among samples. There was a strong positive relationship between NPA and MGO concentration, and DHA was present in all of the active honey samples, indicating a potential for ongoing conversion to MGO. NPA was stable, with most samples showing little change following seven years of storage in the dark at 4°C. This study demonstrates the potential for Australian Leptospermum honey as a wound care product, and argues for an extension of this analysis to other Leptospermum species.

Concepts: New Zealand, Australia, Flower, Honey, New South Wales, Leptospermum scoparium, Monofloral honey, Leptospermum

199

Mosquito-borne disease is an annual problem in Australia, with endemic pathogens such as Ross River virus infecting thousands of people each year. The recent emergence of Zika virus in South America and the Pacific, together with ongoing outbreaks of dengue viruses in Southeast Asia, generated great community interest in the most effective strategies to avoid mosquito bites. Large-scale mosquito control programs are not common in Australia and are limited in New South Wales (NSW). The use of topical insect repellents is a key recommendation by health authorities to prevent mosquito-borne disease. All products sold in Australia purporting to repel mosquitoes must be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Despite around 100 commercial products registered as repelling mosquitoes, there are relatively few active ingredients used across these formulations. The most common are diethyltoluamide (DEET), picaridin, p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD) and a range of plant-derived products (e.g. melaleuca, eucalyptus, citronella oils). Research has shown that each of these active ingredients varies in the duration of protection provided against biting mosquitoes. Recommendations by health authorities are informed by this research, but inconsistencies between recommendations and available repellent formulations and their concentration of active ingredients can cause confusion in the community. There are conflicts between the data resulting from scholarly research, marketing promotion by manufacturers and recommendations provided by overseas health authorities. A review was undertaken of NSW Health’s current recommendations on choosing and using insect repellents, taking into consideration recent research and currently registered topical repellents.

Concepts: Malaria, Mosquito, Australia, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Insect repellent, DEET, New South Wales

174

Vitamin B12 deficiency is prevalent in many countries of origin of refugees. Using a threshold of 5% above which a prevalence of low Vitamin B12 is indicative of a population health problem, we hypothesised that Vitamin B12 deficiency exceeds this threshold among newly-arrived refugees resettling in Australia, and is higher among women due to their increased risk of food insecurity. This paper reports Vitamin B12 levels in a large cohort of newly arrived refugees in five Australian states and territories.

Concepts: Demography, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Vitamin B12 deficiency, Subacute combined degeneration of spinal cord

172

Gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) is common in infants. When the condition causes pathological symptoms and/or complications it is considered gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). It appears to be increasingly diagnosed and causes great distress in the first year of infancy. In New South Wales (NSW), residential parenting services support families with early parenting difficulties. These services report a large number of babies admitted with a label of GOR/GORD. The aim of this study was to explore the maternal and infant characteristics, obstetric interventions, and reasons for clinical reporting of GOR/GORD in NSW in the first 12 months following birth (2000-2011).

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Breastfeeding, Maternal bond, Infant mortality, Gastroesophageal reflux disease, New South Wales

169

BACKGROUND: With the increasing use of probabilistically linked administrative data in health research, it is important to understand whether systematic differences occur between the populations with linked and unlinked records. While probabilistic linkage involves combining records for individuals, population perinatal health research requires a combination of information from both the mother and her infant(s). The aims of this study were to (i) describe probabilistic linkage for perinatal records in New South Wales (NSW) Australia, (ii) determine linkage proportions for these perinatal records, and (iii) assess records with linked mother and infant hospital-birth record, and unlinked records for systematic differences. METHODS: This is a population-based study of probabilistically linked statutory birth and hospital records from New South Wales, Australia, 2001-2008. Linkage groups were created where the birth record had complete linkage with hospital admission records for both the mother and infant(s), partial linkage (the mother only or the infant(s) only) or neither. Unlinked hospital records for mothers and infants were also examined. Rates of linkage as a percentage of birth records and descriptive statistics for maternal and infant characteristics by linkage groups were determined. RESULTS: Complete linkage (mother hospital record - birth record - infant hospital record) was available for 95.9% of birth records, partial linkage for 3.6%, and 0.5% with no linked hospital records (unlinked). Among live born singletons (complete linkage = 96.5%) the mothers without linked infant records (1.6%) had slightly higher proportions of young, non- Australian born, socially disadvantaged women with adverse pregnancy outcomes. The unlinked birth records (0.5%) had slightly higher proportions of nulliparous, older, Australian born women giving birth in private hospitals by caesarean section. Stillbirths had the highest rate of unlinked records (3-4%). CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that probabilistic linkage of perinatal records can achieve high, representative levels of complete linkage. Records for mother’s that did not link to infant records and unlinked records had slightly different characteristics to fully linked records. However, these groups were small and unlikely to bias results and conclusions in a sustentative way. Stillbirths present additional challenges to the linkage process due to lower rates of linkage for lower gestational ages, where most stillbirths occur.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Infant, Fetus, Obstetrics, Mother, New South Wales, Mothers

125

Inhalation of asbestos fibres is the predominant cause of malignant mesothelioma. Domestic exposure to asbestos is a major community concern in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) because of loose-fill asbestos home insulation. Little is known about how trends in mesothelioma rates in the ACT compare with those elsewhere. The objective of this study was to describe trends in mesothelioma rates in the ACT and compare them with those for the rest of Australia.

Concepts: Cancer, Australia, Mesothelioma, Asbestos, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Asbestos and the law, Jervis Bay Territory

50

Recent analysis of the cannabinoid content of cannabis plants suggests a shift towards use of high potency plant material with high levels of Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and low levels of other phytocannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol (CBD). Use of this type of cannabis is thought by some to predispose to greater adverse outcomes on mental health and fewer therapeutic benefits. Australia has one of the highest per capita rates of cannabis use in the world yet there has been no previous systematic analysis of the cannabis being used. In the present study we examined the cannabinoid content of 206 cannabis samples that had been confiscated by police from recreational users holding 15 g of cannabis or less, under the New South Wales “Cannabis Cautioning” scheme. A further 26 “Known Provenance” samples were analysed that had been seized by police from larger indoor or outdoor cultivation sites rather than from street level users. An HPLC method was used to determine the content of 9 cannabinoids: THC, CBD, cannabigerol (CBG), and their plant-based carboxylic acid precursors THC-A, CBD-A and CBG-A, as well as cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THC-V). The “Cannabis Cautioning” samples showed high mean THC content (THC+THC-A = 14.88%) and low mean CBD content (CBD+CBD-A = 0.14%). A modest level of CBG was detected (CBG+CBG-A = 1.18%) and very low levels of CBC, CBN and THC-V (<0.1%). "Known Provenance" samples showed no significant differences in THC content between those seized from indoor versus outdoor cultivation sites. The present analysis echoes trends reported in other countries towards the use of high potency cannabis with very low CBD content. The implications for public health outcomes and harm reduction strategies are discussed.

Concepts: Cannabinoid receptor, Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabis, Cannabinoid, Cannabidiol, Cannabinoids, New South Wales

42

Mosquito-borne diseases caused by endemic pathogens such as Ross River, Barmah Forest and Murray Valley encephalitis viruses are an annual concern in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. More than a dozen mosquito species have been implicated in the transmission of these pathogens, with each mosquito occupying a specialised ecological niche that influences their habitat associations, host feeding preferences and the environmental drivers of their abundance. The NSW Arbovirus Surveillance and Mosquito Monitoring Program provides an early warning system for potential outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease by tracking annual activity of these mosquitoes and their associated pathogens. Although the program will effectively track changes in local mosquito populations that may increase with a changing climate, urbanisation and wetland rehabilitation, it will be less effective with current surveillance methodologies at detecting or monitoring changes in exotic mosquito threats, where different surveillance strategies need to be used. Exotic container-inhabiting mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus pose a threat to NSW because they are nuisance-biting pests and vectors of pathogens such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses. International movement of humans and their belongings have spread these mosquitoes to many regions of the world. In recent years, these two mosquitoes have been detected by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources at local airports and seaports. To target the detection of these exotic mosquitoes, new trapping technologies and networks of surveillance locations are required. Additionally, incursions of these mosquitoes into urban areas of the state will require strategic responses to minimise substantial public health and economic burdens to local communities.

Concepts: Malaria, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Mosquito control, New South Wales

40

The vegetarian diet is thought to have health benefits including reductions in type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Evidence to date suggests that vegetarians tend to have lower mortality rates when compared with non-vegetarians, but most studies are not population-based and other healthy lifestyle factors may have confounded apparent protective effects. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between categories of vegetarian diet (including complete, semi and pesco-vegetarian) and all-cause mortality in a large population-based Australian cohort. The 45 and Up Study is a cohort study of 267,180 men and women aged ≥45years in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Vegetarian diet status was assessed by baseline questionnaire and participants were categorized into complete vegetarians, semi-vegetarians (eat meat≤once/week), pesco-vegetarians and regular meat eaters. All-cause mortality was determined by linked registry data to mid-2014. Cox proportional hazards models quantified the association between vegetarian diet and all-cause mortality adjusting for a range of potential confounding factors. Among 243,096 participants (mean age: 62.3years, 46.7% men) there were 16,836 deaths over a mean 6.1years of follow-up. Following extensive adjustment for potential confounding factors there was no significant difference in all-cause mortality for vegetarians versus non-vegetarians [HR=1.16 (95% CI 0.93-1.45)]. There was also no significant difference in mortality risk between pesco-vegetarians [HR=0.79 (95% CI 0.59-1.06)] or semi-vegetarians [HR=1.12 (95% CI 0.96-1.31)] versus regular meat eaters. We found no evidence that following a vegetarian diet, semi-vegetarian diet or a pesco-vegetarian diet has an independent protective effect on all-cause mortality.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Meat, Diets, New South Wales, Vegetarianism, Veganism, Pescetarianism

34

We built a SEIR (susceptible, exposed, infected, recovered) model of smallpox transmission for New York, New York, USA, and Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, that accounted for age-specific population immunosuppression and residual vaccine immunity and conducted sensitivity analyses to estimate the effect these parameters might have on smallpox reemergence. At least 19% of New York’s and 17% of Sydney’s population are immunosuppressed. The highest smallpox infection rates were in persons 0-19 years of age, but the highest death rates were in those >45 years of age. Because of the low level of residual vaccine immunity, immunosuppression was more influential than vaccination on death and infection rates in our model. Despite widespread smallpox vaccination until 1980 in New York, smallpox outbreak severity appeared worse in New York than in Sydney. Immunosuppression is highly prevalent and should be considered in future smallpox outbreak models because excluding this factor probably underestimates death and infection rates.

Concepts: Immune system, Epidemiology, Vaccination, Immunology, Smallpox, Edward Jenner, Inoculation, New South Wales