|Issue No 86||02 March 2001|
Meat Workers Dropped from the Queue for Q Fever Vaccine
By Mary Yaager
The Meat Workers Union is outraged after discovering hundreds of their members are at risk of contracting a highly infectious disease.
Charlie Donzow, Secretary of the Meat Employees Union said "the vaccine for Q Fever has been dropped from the list of scheduled vaccines and I believe that this will have a devastating effect on the current immunisation programme which is in place for abattoir workers."
According to Professor Boughton, an expert in infectious diseases, each year there are 500 to 1,000 cases of Q fever reported nationally. While a majority of patients recover, others may experience serious complications and can go on to develop sub-acute endocarditis, which has resulted in the recent death of a 55 year old meat worker. Other complications are chronic fatigue syndrome, orchitis, and hepatitis. Pregnant women are at particular risk because of the possibility of the disease being passed on to the newborn child.
Q Fever is a highly infectious zoonotic disease, which is passed from animals to humans. It is caused by a bacterium found in small bush animals. Cattle, sheep and goats are also infected from time to time
Professor Boughton said workers in abattoirs, or even those visiting, are in a particularly high-risk category of contracting Q fever because the bacteria is released into the air when an animal is slaughtered. It is very resilient and easily inhaled. This is why individuals need to be immunised prior to entering an abattoir.
Michael Costa of the Labor Council is seeking urgent talks with the Minister for Health, the Hon. Craig Knowles, to review the decision and have Q Fever reinstated to the list of scheduled vaccines.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005