Doc Wright, Australia's #1 Media Medic. Medical advice for all the family.

Hear Dr Wright daily on Sydney's No 1 Radio Station

2UE

Download a list of other radio stations around Australia here.

newer   older
 
  article topic 

Article

BIRD FLU & EBOLA
Wed, 19th November 2014
 

Will some kind of "Bird Flu" strike. Is it all a beatup? How far away and when. Today, nearly all doctors believe it is merely a matter of time before a major world wide pandemic of serious death dealing flu hits the globe. Currently it is the Ebola virus that is the big worry. They believe that individuals, doctors, governments, despite their vigilance, will not be able to control it. Just as the mysterious but closely similar Spanish Flu killed millions world wide in 1918 - more than died in the last dozen wars - the same event will happen.

Influenza virus and related viruses come in two major forms, termed Influenza A and B. From these two families there are immumerable sub-types or strains. The 1918 epidemic was a variant of "A". Since then there have been similar closely related outbreaks, the swine flu, the Asian flu and a few others. Fortunately, none caused many deaths, and there was no mass world scourge.

DROPLET INFECTION:

The current culprit, commonly called avian or bird flu is technically known as H5N1 variant. It spreads through inhalation of infected droplets in the air, by direct contact, and probably bird to humans. Cases reported so far indicate direct exposure to infected poultry the week before symptoms, probably during butchering plucking and preparing the poultry.

Mars Infection:

However, despite this, there appears to be little if any human to human transmission, even though it is often suspected. With the known information, just how mass infection will occur is not clear. The idea of wearing face masks to reduce levels of aerial infection, frequent hand washing, avoiding face to face contact with known infected persons are some of the many recommendations.

Symptoms are general flu like events for a few days followed by high fever, chest and muscle aches and pains, maybe vomiting and diarrhoea, bleeding from nose and gums.

Respiration:

Later respiratory difficulties can occur. Prompt reporting to the doctor is essential. The two known drugs which may help are Tamiflu and Relenza. Being a virus, antibiotics of course are of no benefit. There is some evidence vaccination against current known forms of the flu may offer some protection. It is all a wait-and-see game. But when the time comes, expect the worst. It is inevitable. With Ebola, the outcome is still unknown. High fever and red eyes seem the common symptoms. Fatality rate is high.

 
INFLUENZA

Q: 

Will a bout of ordinary flu give immunity to "bird flu"?

A: 

Many people incorrectly call any upper respiratory infection "The Flu" when it is really only simple "acute coryza" or cold. A true "flu" is caused by specific Influenza A or B virus, of which there are many variants, some being very serious each year. The "Fluvax" injection gives some immunity to possible serious ones, which vary from year to year. It may give some protection (level unknown) from bird flu. A cold offers no immunity.

 
^back to top
 
VENPUNCTURE

Q: 

I recently had blood tests at the local pathology rooms, and toppled over when I saw blood flowing from my arm into a whacking big syringe.

A: 

Many do not like the sight of blood, specially their own. Even big strapping men are known to topple over. It is simple "syncope" - fainting, which is purely temporary and not serious. Some with low blood pressure are similarly affected (myself included). Next time, ask to lie on a cot whilst the intervention is being carried out.

 
^back to top
 
INJECTIONS

Q: 

When is the best time to have the flu injection?

A: 

Late autumn is a good time, which is roughly April or May but if missed do it now. Vaccine supplies are often not available to doctors until around this time, for the make-up varies each year. It is a reflection of which strains caused serious cases the previous winter (November-February) in the northern hemisphere. Then the vaccine has to be manufactured according to the possible risks. Keep asking your GP.

 
^back to top
 
ROUGH TUBE

Q: 

My penis curves to the left like a banana, I can feel a hard tube underneath and there are major issues with normal partnership relations.

A: 

This is probably Peyronnies, hardness of the walls of the urethra which carries urine from the bladder. A mild viral infection, often from unknown sources, may be the cause. Seek referral to a urologist, and surgical correction is possible, often with a happy outcome. Do not be embarrassed. Doctors deal with these disorders every day.

 
^back to top
 
CONE BIOPSY

Q: 

I had a positive smear test and the gynaecologist has suggested a "cone biopsy" - what is this?

A: 

A small "cone shaped" piece of cervical material containing the positive cells (often ulcerated) is removed, then examined microscopically by the pathologist. This makes certain all "positive" cells are totally removed. Regular smear tests each year for several years are then recommended to make certain cancer is not reappearing. Outcome is usually satisfactory.

 
^back to top
 

This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.

NEWSLETTER

MY SYMPTOM OR ILLNESS IS

Just Ask Dr James Wright.

Coughs, colds, aches and pains, feeling off colour, painful joints, sweaty and miserable? Whatever your symptom, or illness, Dr James Wright may help you, and answer your questions.

Simply log onto docwright.com.au type in your symptom in the space on the left hand column, click topic and up it comes. Simple easy-to-follow information Dr Wright has written over the past several years. Then click contact us if you have a special message.

MONTHLY HEALTH BULLETIN

You can subscribe (no cost) to Dr James Wright's Monthly Health Bulletin by emailing your name and email address to newsletter@docwright.com.au. The bulletin contains up-to-date health tips and news for wellbeing. A copy of the current Bulletin may be viewed online here.

Dr James Wright is associated with lovely Vimiera Retirement Village (vimieravillage.com.au) in the leafy Sydney (NSW) suburb of Eastwood. It is operated by Mediaid Centre Foundation (mediaid.org.au), a non-profit Public Benevolent Institution which provides housing for the elderly, as well as providing a large amount of health information.

Waiting to hear from you Dr James Wright.