NT Government slow to respond to flesh-eating bacteria

Too little, too late Clare. Too busy approving a mine to address a significant health issue.

Govt defends response to flesh-eating bacteria cases (ABC)
The Northern Territory’s Health Department is adamant its response to a cluster of deaths from flesh-eating bacteria was not affected by the presence of a controversial mine nearby.

Three people have died and another had his foot amputated after being infected with the vibrio bacteria in waters near Borroloola, south-east of Darwin, since 2000.

It is the same area as a major zinc mine and a British Medical Journal report suggests heavy metal levels in the water could be affecting the bacteria levels.

The Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory’s gulf country say they have not been told about the risk.

The head of Borroloola’s Mubuji Aboriginal resource centre says the first the community knew of the deaths from vibrio bacteria was when they heard it on the news this morning.

“It’s a shock, it’s not communication that I see, especially health-wise,” he said.

He says no one has told the local Aboriginal population about the risk of going in the water or eating raw seafood.

The territory’s chief health officer Tarun Weeramanthri says the department only recently realised the problem was serious.

“After the fourth case we definitely knew that there was an issue that needed to be dealt with,” he said.

The Territory’s Chief Minister says the flesh-eating bacteria occurs naturally.

Clare Martin says information that educates people on how to manage their lives around the bacteria has been issued.

“I know that there is a campaign being run,” she said.

“I don’t know how widespread or how effective it is, but if it’s not effective enough then we need to do something.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200703/s1860798.htm

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