Research conducted by Menzies School of Health Research director Professor Jonathan Carapetis, will feature in this year’s ‘10 of the best’ booklet, to be launched by the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott on Friday 1 September.
The ‘10 of the best’ booklet celebrates successful health and medical research projects funded by the Federal Government through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
The work featured by Professor Carapetis was conducted while working at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and revealed that contrary to common belief, the streptococcal sore throat is as common now as it was 50 years ago.
It also found that severe, life threatening infections due to group A streptococcus bacteria are as big a problem as meningococcal disease was before the meningococcal group C vaccine was introduced.
“The Group A Streptococcus bacteria cause a massive range of disease including the common sore throat, acute rheumatic fever (which can lead to the more serious rheumatic heart disease), and rarely toxic shock syndrome and flesh eating disease,” Professor Carapetis said.
“Our research found that doctors treating these patients were not always aware of new guidelines and treatments in order to reduce the chance of complications,” he said.
This research is part of a wider program of work conducted by Prof Carapetis and others, the main aim of which is to bring streptococcal diseases under control in Aboriginal communities and developing countries. Aboriginal people suffer world record rates of most of these diseases, including rheumatic heart disease and bloodstream infections.
“This work, conducted in the Northern Territory, Victoria, Queensland and Fiji, places Australia at the forefront of efforts to eradicate serious streptococcal disease around the world. We are looking at all angles, from simple public health approaches through to developing a vaccine,” Professor Carapetis said.