Monday 9 March 2009

Dengue disaster rolls on

If there is just one more reported Dengue infection tomorrow, Cairns will reach the magic number of 600.

Meanwhile, a few suburbs have been removed from the infected areas, and are no longer considered as having active transmissions of dengue fever:-
Aloomba, Clifton Beach, Earlville, Freshwater, Kewarra Beach and Port Douglas.

A number of residents are incensed at the way the Dengue virus has spread since early December. Councillor Robert Pyne has led the charge to get a hard waste collection undertaken by Council, which was not supported by the majority of Councillors last month. This was largely due to Council officials saying it would simply cost to much. However, it has already cost one life and 600 residents has been infected with the violent fever that comes with the infection.

On Saturday the Cairns Post exposed Council's Martyn Street Works Depot harbouring buckets of breeding mosquito larvae. All that Council's CEO could say after being sprung was that he thanked the resident who 'dobbed them in'. What an appalling response from the man who's meant to be running our Council's operations. The local resident who spotted the disgusting situation whilst walking his dog, said that six members of his family had been infected with Dengue.

Should re remind Council again, that it was and still is, the centre of where the Dengue outbreak was first recorded and where the most number of infections have been recorded. We now know from my report last month, and examples like the Martyn Street Council Depot, has without doubt, contributed to the worst ever Dengue infections in Cairns. This was entirely preventable and could have been properly managed.

Surely CEO Briggs, now resembling the infamous fumbling Edgar Briggs, should have directed all Council's yards and works depots to be cleaned and monitored for breeding sites. I mean, if you were the boss at the time of such an outbreak, what would you do? Would you get your own back yard in order, whilst instructing others to do the same?

We have see incompetence at the helm of this Dengue disaster from the very beginning. It was in North Cairns that this all started back in the first week of December. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we told you so Mr Briggs. In December a local resident's formal complaint and discussion with Council's most senior Health official, Gil Farrows, was ignored and not taken seriously. The discussion with the resident was subsequently denied, even though a customer complaint number was issued right under his nose.

Since I first wrote about this mess, three sources within Government departments around Cairns, have told CairnsBlog that they have little faith in Gill Farrows and the Health team that he heads.

Councillor Robert Pyne has also supported free tyre dumping, yet this was restricted to only infected suburbs, and for a very limited one-off deal, a ludicrous situation. Pyne is angry and very disappointed the way in which Queensland Health has managed this outbreak. Although he needs to look at his own Council staff, I agree there are many reasons why this was poorly managed. QLD Health have been far from open with their information. You cannot find out from Health what streets the infections have been recorded. I was told this is due to privacy concerns, however such a secretive way of operating has merely made this disease spread because locals are not getting the answers they should.

The maps on Health's Dengue website have changed versions four times now. They used to show the number of infections 'dotted' over street maps. This was then replaced with greyed out areas with no identifying street or suburb location.

Two weeks ago, when I sought the breakdown of numbers of infections suburb by suburb, I was told that I couldn't have it until the following week. "We need to get this information from the nurses," a Queensland Health spokesperson told me. I asked asked the following two days, and nothing was forthcoming. "We'll get this to you early next week.

Then, you can imagine my surprise when on the Saturday's Cairns Post, all the breakdown of numbers appears! 'Exclusive' - the story said. "Exclusively, we can bring you the breakdown of numbers across Cairns," the story read.

I asked why this information was not supplied to me,, when it was available. "Well, the Cairns Post asked for it weeks ago [before you]," I was told by Queensland Health. This is simply not good enough, and shows that the entire system has been riddled with a closed shop mentality. This information is public health information.

Type 2 is no longer considered to be active in Cairns, but will not be declared over until three months after the last onset of illness, namely 6 May. So with 599 cases recorded since 1 December, the suburbs affected are:

- Bayview Heights, Bungalow, Cairns North, Edge Hill, Edmonton, Holloways Beach, Machans Beach, Manoora, Manunda, Parramatta Park, Smithfield, Trinity Beach, Westcourt, White Rock, Whitfield, Yorkeys Knob.

Another 71 cases have been recorded in Townsville, since 5 January, in Belgian Gardens, Kirwan, North Ward/City, South Townsville

There is still only three in Port Douglas since 6 February. Yarrabah has 2; Injinoo 1; Innisfail 1; and one in Mareeba.


Anonymous said...

A circulation-promoting 'arrangement' between the Murdoch media and Queensland Health?

As you point out, public health information should be made available to all comers as soon as it's available.

Australia's political culture has become so corrupted that barely anyone notices this kind of thing anymore. It's beyond disgusting.

Anonymous said...

You're being a bit tough on ol' Briggsy there Michael.

It's a bit like blaming Rupert Murdoch for the Gavin King column in the Cairns Post.

I know of one 83 year old bloke that died from laughter when he read it.

Oops !!!

Anonymous said...

Feeling pretty self-important, aren't we?

Council staff has vigorously disputed your "report" about the dengue situation in North Cairns. It's your word against theirs - and I note the Cairns Post could find no truth in your allegations.

And why is "600" a magic number, Michael? Someone getting a prize?

Michael P Moore said...

You can spot a nutter by his/her moniker - never willing to say who they are - but make outrageous comments - and never substantiate their claims.

I discussed the North Cairns - Gatton Street Dengue incident with CEO Noel Briggs - and he was concerned on how it was handled within Council at the time of the complainant. I have no doubt he followed it up the morning of my report. I also talked with Council's senior Communications Manager at the same time.

Regarding the Cairns Post "finding no truth in the allegations" - is yet again another silly and ill-founded comment. The Post has never investigated the initial spread of this disease - nor have the ever commented on the incidents that I have written about.

Anonymous said...

The council DID drop the ball on this one sorry if it offends you gus oh sorry I mean herinque. There are facts you me and mikey makes three all know it, but it's always easier to cover up from the inside, wouldn't you agree?

Anonymous said...

"Regarding the Cairns Post "finding no truth in the allegations" - is yet again another silly and ill-founded comment. The Post has never investigated the initial spread of this disease - nor have the ever commented on the incidents that I have written about."

I'd believe it. Not like the Post bother investigating any of their stories.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to believe how ignorant your health authorities handle the matter.

When dengue hits a population unprepared like the one in Queensland, it can become a disaster like in Reunion where 1/3 of the population fell victim within a summer.

None of the known working solutions are applied by the authorities except of cleaning. But cleaning is only the base. If just fogging is used, it means that the authorities are simply waiting for the next winter ignoring all the damage which will dengue bring to the victims and the economy.