From: The Courier-Mail
March 15, 2013
AUSTRALIA’S first victim of a killer strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis has died amid warnings of a looming health epidemic on Queensland’s doorstep.
Medical experts are seriously concerned about the handling of the TB epidemic in Papua New Guinea after Catherina Abraham died last Thursday of an incurable form of the illness, known as XDR-TB (extensively drug resistant TB) in Cairns Base Hospital.
The 20-year-old had been in an isolation ward since May last year after an outbreak of the highly-contagious mutated form of TB on Daru Island, off Cape York.
Some doctors fear she will become the first of a wave medical refugees heading to Queensland for treatment.
The State’s Chief Health officer Jeanette Young has urged people not to panic about the threat of an outbreak on the mainland.
But respiratory physician Steve Vincent, who treated Ms Abraham, warned that there was a further threat of Totally Drug Resistant or TDR-TB “just around the corner”.
“Her death is not unexpected given the fallout of this killer, incurable disease,” Dr Vincent said. “Despite all the first-world medical treatment, it shows how difficult it is to control.
“It exemplifies the fact with such a high mortality rate, PNG is going to have an extremely difficult time in handling this epidemic.”