Inform’ACTION # 18 + Supplement (Brucellosis article)

August 2004

Printed version + Supplement (PDF, 876 KB)



  • Dengue surveillance and response in Vanuatu
    Len Tarivonda (PDF, 126 KB)
  • New Caledonia’s 2004 dengue fever mobilisation day
    Dr Bernard Rouchon (PDF, 82 KB)


  • Update on Second Generation HIV Surveillance
    Tim Sladden (PDF, 60 KB)

Germ sensitivity

  • Resistance to the main germs responsible for infections isolated at the Louis Malarde Institute’s Clinical Laboratory (2003)
    Dr Cyril Coudert and Dr Frédéric Beau(PDF, 93 KB)

Lab guidelines

  • Guidelines for sending serum samples to a L3 Laboratory
    Dr Greg Smith (PDF, 60 KB)

PPHSN Meetings

Other meetings

  • Foodborne disease meeting in Malaysia
    Dr Narendra Singh (HTML, 9 KB)
  • Pacific Health Summit for Sustainable Disaster Risk Management
    Dr Tom Kiedrzynski (HTML, 8 KB)


  • Brucella suis Brucellosis outbreak in Wallis and Futuna
    Dr Loïc de Poncheville, Dr Laurent Morisse, François Nuttens and
    Dr Jean-François Yvon (PDF, 263 KB)(PDF, 876 KB)


Brucellosis and other bacteria

It is with great pleasure that I contribute the editorial in this issue of InformACTION.

This issue of InformACTION once again brings us real problems and issues at home or in the region. It reminds all of us of the common infectious disease events, patterns, epidemics and the re-emerging diseases that should be on the radar screens of PICTs at all times. This issue also highlights some good practices that could be adopted by public health programmes and even clinical practice in the region.

It appears that zoonotic diseases are becoming an increasing threat to human health. Three recent zoonotic disease outbreaks have occurred close to us in the Asia Pacific region, Nipah virus, SARS and HPAI, reminding us of the need for increasing awareness and preparedness regarding these newer zoonotic diseases, especially SARS and HPAI. Equal if not more attention must also be paid to the more common diseases like dengue and diseases that may be re-emerging like leptospirosis, brucellosis and other PPHSN priority diseases.

This issue of InformACTION includes an important article on brucellosis in humans in a Pacific Island country, reminding us that we should be on the lookout for this condition. Data in the region on brucellosis are scarce. However, sporadic human cases have been reported in the past. More recently a few cases were diagnosed among Pacific Islanders in Auckland, New Zealand. Clinical vigilance and testing of brucellosis is clearly low and needs to be raised, especially where animal contact is high and epidemiological data on animals shows the presence of the disease.

Brucellosis is essentially an infectious disease of animals; however, humans can become infected by coming in contact with infected animals or animal products. The disease transmission to humans occurs by various modes: oral, inhalation or direct contact, such as through breaches in the skin. Transmission through human breast milk and sexual transmission have been reported as well. The cases discussed in the article in this issue provide some insights and highlight the importance of improving the animal health and human health in the region. The recent PPHSN EpiNet meeting also highlighted the importance of closer collaboration between animal (veterinary) and human health specialities in the region, the more so in view of other zoonotic diseases that have caused epidemics in the Pacific or neighbouring regions.

When it comes to dengue, suffice to state that the potential threat of dengue type 3 to the region from Asian epidemics is always present, especially with infected people travelling to our region, where the vector for dengue is abundant. Even more important is the dengue fever risk due to travel within the region. The recent dengue type 1 experience at the Pacific Festival of Arts in Palau is a stark reminder of how the combination of a mass gathering of people together with imported or local infected individuals can easily initiate a significant health event. Nonetheless, the risks for such outbreaks and their spread to neighbouring countries in the Pacific may be reduced by timely public health actions.

Most important among these is timely and adequate communication. In this issue of InformACTION two of the Pacific Islands countries have shared their experiences and practices for managing dengue fever in their countries. We hope this will assist us in our quest to find, adopt or adapt best practice or best evidence for dengue control programmes in the PICTs.

The global pandemic of HIV is the scary truth and a real concern to all. It does not take much imagination to dwell in the world of doom, given the horrific statistics of some settings. The Pacific is no exception as far as HIV/AIDS is concerned and several efforts are being made to develop Pacific HIV prevention strategies. In this issue of InformACTION we present an update on second-generation HIV surveillance. This will certainly give you an insight into how deeply this problem is being studied to clearly understand the preventive issues and barriers in the PICTs.

As an unusual contribution but perhaps very relevant for hospital, primary care and public health practice in the region, we have included a brief article on resistance patterns of micro-organisms in French Polynesia. The patterns are certainly informative and we hope the article will stimulate other PICTs to review the microorganism sensitivity patterns to guide clinicians prescribing practices.

In the effort to improve services offered to PICTs by the PPHSN focal point, we have included information on Guidelines for sending serum samples to the L3 laboratories, using as an example the L3 lab, Queensland Health Scientific Services. We hope that this will help in smooth transportation of specimens for diagnostic purposes. As usual, we are always available to assist this process should you need it.

In addition, this issue includes a series of updates on meetings and workshops. The reports on the Second LabNet Technical Working Body Meeting, the 10th PPHSN Coordinating Body Meeting and the second Regional EpiNet workshop give you some idea of the breadth of activities being undertaken to improve public health surveillance in the region. There is also an update on disaster risk management. Whilst this might seem to be coming from left field, there is undoubtedly increasing realisation in the Pacific of the importance of having in place a plan for coordinated action in the face of outbreaks of diseases and illnesses.

Foodborne illness is easily dismissed in the Pacific. The burden of illness and the aetiologies are poorly or incompletely known. But what is recognised is that foodborne illness is among the five leading causes of morbidity in the region. A brief update is presented about the Asia Pacific region approach to food safety issues and the PPHSN efforts to develop foodborne diseases surveillance for PICTs.

We wish you pleasant reading and we hope that this bulletin will be informative enough to assist you in many ways. Should there be issues where you may want clarification you could contact us as at the stated SPC addresses. Lastly but not the least, we acknowledge and thank the many contributors who have come forward to share their experiences in this issue of InformACTION.

Dr Narendra Singh
Communicable Disease Surveillance Specialist