Welcome to the Health Emergency website of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.
This site is designed as an information resource for the public, health authorities, the medical profession and other health experts who may be involved in responding to a national health emergency.
Health emergencies include:
- significant communicable disease outbreaks, such as an influenza pandemic;
- chemical, biological or radiological incidents, either criminal or accidental;
- mass casualty incidents, such as an earthquake or transport accident;
- any emergency where there are a significant number of people needing medical treatment which requires a coordinated national approach; or
- an emergency where Australian medical personnel are required for deployment
During health emergencies this web site will be updated to communicate situational information, important health messages, and other health related response arrangements.
AVIAN INFLUENZA (Bird Flu) Outbreak in China - (H7N9)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been notified of human infection with Influenza A (H7N9) by Chinese authorities and has informed the international community about this new avian influenza virus (Bird Flu). At this stage the virus is only transmitted from birds to humans. There is no human to human spread which means that an infected person cannot pass the virus to other people.
As soon as information on the new virus was released, Australian health authorities responded quickly under the direction of the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Baggoley.
The Office of Health Protection, within the Australian government Department of Health and Ageing, immediately linked in with the World Health Organization to ensure Australia had the most current information available and to gain access to the virus for diagnostic testing and potential vaccine development.
The Office of Health Protection is closely engaged with key public health and scientific experts throughout Australia and around the world to ensure we have all the systems in place to respond to this public health issue should it escalate.
Professor Baggoley has convened a meeting of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the peak health emergency management body which comprises all state and territory Chief Health Officers, the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, the Public Health Laboratory Network, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Influenza and a range of other public health experts, to review the country's preparedness for a potential national response.
One of the AHPPC's first actions was to endorse a case definition and information for clinicians and laboratories developed by Australia's leading experts on communicable diseases and public health laboratories. Last week Professor Baggoley also issued information on the H7N9 virus for GPs including guidance on investigation and infection control, current as at 10 April 2013.
The Department of Health and Ageing continues to monitor the progress of the virus and is updating the Influenza website on a daily basis.
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