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

Journal: Public health research & practice


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


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


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


Overdiagnosis occurs in a population when conditions are diagnosed correctly but the diagnosis produces an unfavourable balance between benefits and harms. In cancer screening, overdiagnosed cancers are those that did not need to be found because they would not have produced symptoms or led to premature death. These overdiagnosed cancers can be distinguished from false positives, which occur when an initial screening test suggests that a person is at high risk but follow-up testing shows them to be at normal risk. The cancers most likely to be overdiagnosed through screening are those of the prostate, thyroid, breast and lung. Overdiagnosis in cancer screening arises largely from the paradoxical problem that screening is most likely to find the slow-growing or dormant cancers that are least likely to harm us, and less likely to find the aggressive, fast-growing cancers that cause cancer mortality. This central paradox has become clearer over recent decades. The more overdiagnosis is produced by a screening program, the less likely the program is to serve its ultimate goal of reducing illness and premature death from cancer. Thus, it is vital that health professionals and researchers continue an open, scientific inquiry into the extent and consequences of overdiagnosis, and devise appropriate responses to it.

Concepts: Cancer, Disease, Medical terms, Type I and type II errors, Prostate cancer, Screening, Overdiagnosis, Medical test


The effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic upon human health, economic activity and social engagement have been swift and far reaching. Emerging evidence shows that the pandemic has had dramatic mental health impacts, bringing about increased anxiety and greater social isolation due to the physical distancing policies introduced to control the disease. In this context, it is possible to more deeply appreciate the health consequences of loneliness and social isolation, which researchers have argued are enduring experiences for many people and under-recognised contributors to public health. In this paper, we examine the social and psychological consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on what this has revealed about the need to better understand and respond to social isolation and loneliness as public health priorities. Social isolation and loneliness are understood to be distinct conditions, yet each has been found to predict premature mortality, depression, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Estimates of the prevalence and distribution of social isolation and loneliness vary, possibly ranging from one-in-six to one-in-four people, and the lack of knowledge about the extent of these conditions indicates the need for population monitoring using standardised methods and validated measures. Reviews of the evidence relating to social isolation and loneliness interventions have found that befriending schemes, individual and group therapies, various shared activity programs, social prescription by healthcare providers, and diverse strategies using information and communication technologies have been tried. There remains uncertainty about what is effective for different population groups, particularly for prevention and for addressing the more complex condition of loneliness. In Australia, a national coalition - Ending Loneliness Together - has been established to bring together researchers and service providers to facilitate evidence gathering and the mobilisation of knowledge into practice. Research-practice partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaborations of this sort are essential for overcoming the public health problems of loneliness and social isolation that have pre-existed and will endure beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.


To explore the incidence of the ‘revolving door’ phenomenon, whereby individuals move between positions in government and positions in the Australian alcohol, food and gambling industries.


Objectives and importance: Paramedics have high rates of occupational injury and fatality. The objective of this study is to describe their specific risks of violence-related injury.

Concepts: Cohort study, Cohort, Retrospective, Object


The impact of drug and alcohol misuse has been the subject of widespread media discussion in the past year, particularly in the context of restricted alcohol trading hours in an effort to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence. A recent study evaluating NSW Health’s drug and alcohol consultation liaison (CL) services1 demonstrates how pervasive drug and alcohol problems are, and the impact they have on the health system. This paper highlights how expanding CL services to fill current unmet need could deliver a range of benefits to patients and hospitals.

Concepts: Domestic violence, Hospital, Alcoholism, Emergency department


Exploration of experience of harms due to another person’s drinking within a demographic particularly vulnerable to these consequences. Importance of study: Largest sampling of young Australian risky drinkers, who are underrepresented in general population surveys. The range of harms due to others' drinking reported here is more comprehensive than documented elsewhere.


The understanding and practice of public health crisis communication are improved through the study of responses to past crises, but require retooling for present challenges. The ‘Addressing Ebola and other outbreaks’ checklist contains guiding principles built upon maxims developed from a World Health Organization consultation in response to the mad cow (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) crisis that were later adopted for Ebola. The purpose of this article is to adapt the checklist for the health communication challenges and public health practices that have emerged during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The communication challenges of promoting vaccine acceptance are used to illustrate a key area that requires strengthened communication. Type of program or service: Effective communication principles for application during the COVID-19 pandemic.