Public Health Alerts

Visit this Alerts page regularly to keep abreast of the latest health developments in our region as they unfold. On this page you will find important information on public health issues in the ACT.

Current Alerts

23.02.17 – Dangerous Drug Warning for Canberrans

ACT Health are warning Canberrans to be aware of a dangerous and illicit substance that has been distributed to young people as an ecstasy-type ‘MDMA’ drug.

Calvary Hospital Emergency Department Physician and illicit drug expert, Dr David Caldicott, said the drug contains two highly potent compounds fluoroamphetamine, a substituted amphetamine and 25CNBOMe which is a dangerous hallucinogen. Together, these two products significantly increase the potential for harm.

“The drugs are being sold in capsule form, consisting of pink and clear capsules that contain brown coarse granular material.

“Every now and again we get a ‘bad batch’ of the drugs in Canberra, whether it’s ecstasy or heroin or amphetamines. However, this particular variety is of a very dangerous category of drug, which if consumed could be potentially fatal or at least cause serious health problems.

“The 25CNBOMe chemical is falsely referred to as synthetic LSD but is considerably more dangerous. Patients have been hurt and killed from both behavioural effects while hallucinating, as well as the toxicological effects on the circulation.

“Fluoroamphetamine is intermediate in effect between amphetamine and MDMA, and is associated with several reports of severe headache, severe cardiovascular and cerebrovascular complications, including intracerebral haemorrhages, and even death.

“Anytime you decide to take illicit drugs you open up yourself to the potential of becoming critically ill, but this particular drug is extremely dangerous, which has prompted this health warning.

“The analysis was undertaken by the ACTINOS Group, a collaboration between ACT Emergency doctors, the ACT Government Analytical Laboratory and the Australian National University, found the drugs sample to be similar to those that caused multiple overdoses in Melbourne several weeks ago, only with the absence of MDMA.

“At this stage we do not know how widespread the distribution of these capsules might be, but we are consulting widely with our colleagues interstate. People in possession of these products should be aware that they have a high probability of causing harm if ingested, and they should dispose of them safely, and immediately.

“If members of the community have consumed capsules which they feel have effects different to what they expected, or just make them feel unwell, they should seek urgent medical advice from their General Practitioner or visit the hospital Emergency Department,” Dr Caldicott said.

For drug advice people can call the Alcohol and Other Drugs Services 24 Hour Helpline on 62079977. [Anchor] The 24 hour Helpline is staffed by professional workers who can provide information on drug and associated issues, as well as support for people managing their addiction.

If members of the community have any information regarding the purchasing, selling or manufacturing of illegal they should call ACT Policing Operations on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.  Information can be provided anonymously.

 

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Image taken by the ACTINOS Project, a project of the Australian Drug Observatory

23.02.17 – Food Recall 

A food recall is being conducted for sesame flavoured wheat puffs in the ACT and NSW due to undeclared peanut allergen. ACT Health advises that Ottovo International Trading P/L has recalled Wheat Pop Sesame Flavour from Chinese grocery stores in NSW and ACT due to undeclared peanut allergen.

Details are:

·         Wheat Pop, Sesame Flavour, plastic bag 400g

·         Best Before 25-10-2017

Any consumers who have a peanut allergy or intolerance may have a reaction if the product is consumed. The product can be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

If you are concerned about your health you should seek medical advice.

For more information see http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/industry/foodrecalls/recalls/Pages/Wheat-Pop-Sesame-Flavour.aspx

or contact Ottovo International Trading P/L on 02 9604 8886.

16.02.17 - Salmonella outbreak

The Health Protection Service (HPS) has identified an outbreak of Salmonella associated with two cafés, located in Belconnen and Gungahlin.

Staff from HPS have inspected both cafés and found issues related with food handling processes and procedures. HPS has served prohibition orders on both premises and is working with the cafés to address these issues.

The cafes will be closed until such time as the identified issues have been rectified. This action means that there is no ongoing risk to the health of the ACT population from these events.

Food safety is an important public health issue and this is a timely reminder of the importance of food safety, not only for food businesses, but everyone in the community.

As this is an ongoing investigation HPS is not in a position to provide the number of people affected.

ACT Health is not able to release details of food businesses that are subject to enforcement action or ongoing investigation as it could unreasonably affect the business affairs of registered proprietors, or unduly influence or impair future legal proceedings.

Information on Salmonellosis:

Salmonellosis is caused by an infection with the bacteria Salmonella. It causes a gastrointestinal illness with symptoms including fever, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and vomiting.  Salmonella is often spread through the consumption of poorly cooked or contaminated foods. Raw or undercooked eggs, meat and poultry are particularly high risk foods. People with health concerns should see their medical practitioner.

For more information on food safety visit:

http://www.health.act.gov.au/public-information/businesses/food-safety-regulation

http://www.health.act.gov.au/sites/default/files/Publications/Factsheets/Foodborne%20disease.pdf

10-11 February 2017: Health Advice during Potential Power Outages in the ACT

The extreme hot weather conditions have resulted in record electricity demand predicted across NSW on Friday 10 February and Saturday 11 February 2017. This, combined with constraints on the availability of black coal generation capacity in NSW, has the potential to give rise to minor supply shortfalls in the ACT. Power outages may have an impact on residents’ health, especially during very hot weather. 

For further information see Health Information fact sheet

15.12.16 - Mycobacterium chimaera in heater cooler units

ACT Health is alerting the community to an issue involving a specific brand of heater-cooler unit commonly used worldwide in open-heart surgery has been linked to a small number of cases of infection with an uncommon environmental bacterium called Mycobacterium chimaera.  The heater-cooler units are thought to have been contaminated with the bacteria during the manufacturing process in Europe.

For further information see Mycobacterium chimaera

25.11.16 – Influenza Report

Summary: The number of influenza cases being reported to ACT Health has largely returned to background levels. Of the 1,554 cases notified year to date, only 1.8% (n=28) occurred in the last fortnight. The majority of notifications during 2016 were influenza A (90.3%). Notifications have been highest in adults aged 30-49 years and children aged 0-9 years old. This is the final report for 2016.

Prior fortnightly ACT Influenza Reports can be found in the previous alerts section. For general information visit the Influenza in the ACT page in this alerts section.

The Australian Influenza Report is compiled from a number of data sources, which are used to monitor influenza activity and severity in the community. These data sources include laboratory-confirmed notifications to NNDSS, influenza associated hospitalisations, sentinel influenza-like illness (ILI) reporting from general practitioners and emergency departments, ILI-related call centre calls and community level surveys and sentinel laboratory testing results.

Previous Alerts

To view Alerts and Advisories that are no longer current, including alerts issued more than a year ago, visit the previous alerts section of this website.

Further Information

To find out more, visit the Population Health section of this website.

You can find information about consumer food recalls on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.