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Return of the killer mosquitoes


Blog headlines

  • Link of the week: National Cholesterol Month
    23 October 2020

    Every month or week of the year seems to be an awareness week, October has more than its fair share.

  • New redeployment service offers talent pool of motivated, work-ready individuals
    15 October 2020

    People 1st International have shared some of the work they are doing to support people displaced from industries due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is an opportunity for health and care services to benefit from this workforce.

  • Link of the week
    9 October 2020

    Article published in the BMJ looking at the ability of the health service to quickly bounce back to pre-Covid levels of activity and considers if it is desirable.

  • Virtual Consultations– the patient perspective
    2 October 2020

    This week Jessie Cunnett, director of health and social care at Transverse has shared this article.

  • Virtual Consultations– the patient perspective
    1 October 2020

    This week Jessie Cunnett, director of health and social care at Transverse has shared this article - Virtual Consultations– the patient perspective.

  • Celebrating innovation in eye research
    24 September 2020

    This week Julian Jackson from VisionBridge has shared a report on eye research.

  • Link of the week: Comprehensive Spending Review and Covid-19
    24 September 2020

    This week we are sharing a blog that outlines the funding pressures and uncertainties faced by the health and care system

  • Risk stratifying elective care patients
    10 September 2020

    This blog has been shared by MBI healthcare technologies. As services are starting to treat routine patients those on waiting lists are making enquiries as to where they are on the list, and if they are still on the list.

  • Link of the week
    4 September 2020

    This week the link we would like to share are reflections from physiotherapy students on placement at Alzheimer Scotland https://letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com/

  • Link of the week
    28 August 2020

    This week we would like to share a blog published on the Mind website about being a BAME health worker in the pandemic.

  • Remote clinical triage model
    20 August 2020

    This week we are sharing how a remote clinical triage model was implemented at Tollgate Medical Centre. This has been shared with us by Sarah Portway, a Nurse, and Clinical Services Manager at Tollgate Medical Centre.

  • Can the Community Pharmacy become the gateway to integrated care in the NHS?
    13 August 2020

    The NHS is a continually evolving innovative demand led public service the role of the Community Pharmacist is becoming the public face on a journey to the more responsible public engagement in the personal care of individuals and their family. There are currently over 11000 Pharmacies many are single or small chain service providers, while multiples occupy the urban shopping centres and more densely populated conurbations, the value of the rural High Street can’t be understated.

  • Crunch time for patient involvement
    7 August 2020

    There are new challenges for primary care, which could really do with patient input. Mike Etkind, chair of a PPG and founding member of his PCN’s patient group, recognises the size of the task clinical directors have managed over the last few months but identifies two particular issues where patients have a necessary and valuable contribution, that need to be addressed now – the 2020 vaccination programme and primary care from a distance- total triage, remote consultations, and the use of telemedicine.

  • Link of the week - Visionbridge
    31 July 2020

    The link we are sharing this week was submitted by Julian Jackson, Visionbridge.

  • Links of the week
    23 July 2020

    This week we are sharing two articles with you.

  • Link of the week
    21 July 2020

    The blog is from the perspective of the Company Chemist Association's Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison.

  • Link of the week
    9 July 2020

    This week we are sharing a blog from the NHS Confederation’s “NHS Reset” looking at the work of Healthwatch, the role of volunteers in supporting patients being discharged from hospital and the importance of the community.

  • Virtual education sessions on spinal cord injury from Spinal Injuries Association
    2 July 2020

    This week Karen Mikalsen from the Spinal Injuries Association shares some information on their work and events for healthcare professionals.

  • Guest blog:Karen Chumley
    25 June 2020

    Thank you to Karen Chumley for a second blog –this time on the local use of an Electronic Palliative Care Coordination system during the Covid-19 pandemic. Karen is the Clinical Director and Deputy CEO at St Helena.

  • Link of the week
    19 June 2020

    This week's link of the week is article by Yasmin Khanagha published in Nursing Times – Why we need to open the conversation about racism.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Return of the killer mosquitoes

Exactly two years ago, we passed on public health advice urging people to cover their water butts and practice good garden husbandry to protect themselves and their loved ones from the 34 species of mosquito that flourish in the brief British summer.

Indigenous mosquitoes inflict nothing more harmful than mild irritation but, as the Public Health England press release made clear, this is mainly thanks to the vigilance of their officials who monitor ports and other entry points to the UK to keep us safe.

Last year there was a lull, a temporary respite, the calm before the storm, perhaps, but now the mosquitoes are back. Only this time it’s serious. 

The BBC reported five cases of the Zika virus in Scotland, immediately raising hopes that while all other areas of news were becalmed in the silly season, there would at least be some decent health stories to report.

There was a pleasing schadenfreude in the thought that Rory McIlroy and his golfing chums, having swerved the negligible risk of contracting Zika by deciding not to travel to Brazil for the Olympics, might catch it instead at St Andrews.

Fear not, golf fans. Mr McIlroy is safe. The BBC story is a classic response to the hysteria that sweeps the media at this time of year when there is nothing to write about. Its source is a routine public health bulletin on the number of recorded cases of Zika virus imported by travellers, of which there are currently around 60 in the UK.

The BBC managed to squeeze every last drop of drama and suspense out of the situation.

Its headline: “Zika outbreak: ‘Small number’ of cases found in Scotland” manages to imply an outbreak in Scotland without saying as much, and also casts doubt on the scale of the problem with judiciously placed quote marks.

Here are the opening paragraphs, a masterclass in the art of the summer non-story. The italics are ours.

“A number of people in Scotland have been diagnosed as having the Zika virus, it has been confirmed.”

They’ve got the virus. We’re all going to die. Adding “it has been confirmed” removes any doubt and suggests that the admission had to be wrung from cagey officials at the Ministry of Tropical Diseases. Much better than saying “we got it from a press release”.

“The Scottish government said the disease, which has sparked a major health alert in South America, did "not pose a public health risk" in Scotland.”

They would say that, wouldn’t they? A government denial means we’re definitely going to die.

“A spokesman said the mosquito that spreads the virus was not found in the UK and Scotland's climate meant it could not become established.”

The author is compelled to present these facts, which risk squashing the story like a bug in the third paragraph. How are we going to keep it going for another 400 words?

“Zika has been linked to microcephaly in babies. The birth defect results in children being born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.”

Ah, that’s how. The gruesome medical detail is irrelevant because there is no risk of contracting the disease in Scotland, but at the midway point in the article there is little to be gained by making this clear.

“It is understood that no more than five Scottish cases have been detected.”

As far as we know there are five cases, but actually there may be 5000 desperately sick golfers with abnormally small heads being treated at a top-secret underground research facility beneath St Andrews.

“More than 50 people across the UK have been treated for the infection.”

It’s spreading. I told you we were doomed.

Anyone who makes it to the end of the story past the numerous “Zika outbreak” links, the map of the world showing infected areas in purple, and the black and white photo of mosquitoes hell-bent on the destruction of Britain’s Ryder Cup hopes would probably work out that there is nothing to fear.

Nevertheless, if you are planning to travel to Scotland this summer, check with the BBC and the Scottish Public Health Observatory first. The crisis may well have deepened.

Meanwhile, if there is any remaining doubt that the silly season is under way, these were among the best health news headlines we found this week. We hope they will help to keep you safe until September, when things should return to normal. Try not to worry until then.

  • Binge watching TV programmes could kill you
  • Overdue mother gives birth to twins after playing Pokémon Go
  • Boy who ate only sausages and beans cured by hypnotherapy
  • Why a summer cold could be WORSE than a winter one
  • Tooth flossing advice being reviewed by Public Health England

Public health editor: Julian Patterson