Q Fever has been a hot topic of late with more and more cases popping up over the state. The ABC reported on the current Q fever situation and the need for the Government to investigate a subsidised vaccine program.
Pig hunters need to take particular care when dealing with pigs from the affected regions and make them selves aware of the tell tale signs and practice safe handling of their game. (Further reading on diseases from pigs here)
The potentially fatal disease is spread from animals to humans, and last year there were 220 reported cases in New South Wales.
Sixty-six of those cases, or about a third, were reported in western New South Wales.
Other hot spots included the Hunter, New England and North Coast regions.
Up to 25 per cent of people diagnosed with Q fever do not fully recover, with many sufferers going on to develop long term chronic fatigue.
The NSW Government this weekannounced free meningococcal vaccinations for senior high school students, but the NSW Farmers Association said there were more cases of Q fever and it needed to be prioritised.
NSW Farmers spokesman Chris Groves said the Government needed to fund testing and vaccinations for people at risk.
“Speaking first hand for someone who had the disease, I’d hate to think of anyone else getting it. It is a tragic thing.”
Mr Groves, who farms at Cowra in the state’s central-west, said both levels of government needed to tackle the problem before it worsened.
“It would be great if the Q fever vaccine was able to be put on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” he said.
“So we really need a joint approach between State Government and Federal Government to help people faced with this disease, to be able to protect themselves.”
Governments should improve access to vaccine, AMA says but Australian Medical Association NSW branch president Brad Frankum did not agree with the Government stance.
“I think that’s the Government trying to shift costs and abrogate responsibility,” Professor Frankum said.
“We’re all citizens of the nation, and you could argue a similar thing in some cases with Hepatitis B, and yet that one is subsidised by the Government, so I actually don’t buy that argument.”
Professor Frankum said state and federal governments should work with the industry to improve access to the vaccine.
“We need to reach a position where those three stakeholders can work together to make sure that the vaccination happens,” he said.
“The problem is that screening and vaccination is moderately expensive.
“As a society we’ve decided that we should pay for vaccination for the population through subsidies from government. I don’t see why Q fever should be any different.”
Labor, NSW Farmers united in call for action
Labor’s spokesman for primary industries and western NSW MP Mick Veitch, who has also survived a bout of Q fever, said he was concerned about the prevalence of the disease.
The Quiet Curse
Landline looks at how prepared Australia is to deal with a Q fever outbreak.
“I contracted Q fever back in 1983 in south-west Queensland shearing. It wasn’t unusual, it wasn’t as bad as some of the others,” Mr Veitch said.
“I had some friends who were shearers who contracted Q fever, who were laid low for up to six months in one case. It can be quite a debilitating disease.”
While there were worse figures for the disease in the early 1990s and 2000s, Mr Veitch said it had been steadily on the rise again and the Government had been slow to act.
“I think that the State Government should advocate quite solidly with the Federal Government,” he said.
“This is an issue for the State Government when it comes to advocacy on behalf of the citizens of New South Wales.
“If you work in those industries, you’d want to know the State Government has got your back.”