Herald Sun (Australia) (10.19.12)
Health officials in Australia claim there is little to worry about, even though they have been accused of not doing enough to prevent an outbreak of a mutant strain of the killer lung disease TB spreading into north Queensland. On October 18, the Courier-Mail disclosed one of Australia’s first cases of mutated Extensively Drug-Resistant TB in a Papua New Guinean patient being treated in isolation at Cairns Base Hospital in Far North Queensland. Experts caution that the patient is the first in a wave before the highly contagious, incurable, untreatable XDR TB spreads. However, Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr. Jeannette Young, minimized the threat, saying Queensland was not at risk, only PNG; however, she urged Queensland to help PNG. Over the last two years, Queensland taxpayers paid for a $32 million bill for TB treatment of about 100 Papua New Guineans, with Queensland Health transferring 92 patients back to PNG Health Services in June, of which 65 were fully treated. Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg’s office said that despite being an international matter, the Commonwealth did not fully fund health services to PNG nationals.