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Return of the killer mosquitoes


Blog headlines

  • Link of the week: Clinically-Led workforce and Activity Redesign (CLEAR)
    21 January 2021

    This week we are sharing a link to the Clinically-Led workforce and Activity Redesign (CLEAR) site that is funded by Health Education England.

  • So much more than an extra pair of hands
    14 January 2021

    The introduction of the additional roles reimbursement scheme for primary care networks has started to grow capacity in general practice to address the unsustainably high workload that has put so much pressure on GPs.

  • Primary Care Networks – how did we get here?
    7 January 2021

    This week we are sharing a blog by PCC’s chairman David Colin-Thomé.

  • A year like no other
    17 December 2020

    On 5 July 1948 the NHS was born, over the last 72 years challenges and changes have been remarkable but the service has probably never been tested as much as in the last nine months. There have previously been numerous re-organisations, multiple changes to hospitals, mental health services and a shift from the family doctor towards more integrated primary care services delivered by a range of professionals. However, rapid transformation of services to embrace digital technologies, and a shift change to work differently has been forced upon all areas of the health service this year.

  • Guest blog: David Hotchin
    11 December 2020

    This week we have a guest blog that was submitted to us by David Hotchin, written by a retired friend....obviously, he's used a little poetic licence.

  • What now for commissioning?
    3 December 2020

    By Professor David Colin-Thomé, OBE, chair of PCC and formerly a GP for 36 years, the National Clinical Director of Primary, Dept of Health England 2001- 10 and visiting Professor Manchester and Durham Universities.

  • What White people don’t see
    26 November 2020

    This year’s Black History Month (BHM) has, unfortunately, in its shadow another example of why campaigns like this exist.

  • Primary Care: Why don’t we talk about Racism?
    20 November 2020

    Rita Symons is an ex NHS leader who is now a leadership consultant, coach and facilitator. Her work is mainly in the NHS and she is an associate for PCC offering facilitation, coaching, strategy development and team development activities. She is a concerned but hopeful world citizen and combines work in the NHS with a board role in a non for profit organisation and an interest in writing.

  • Primary Care and the Health of the Public
    12 November 2020

    By Professor David Colin-Thomé, OBE, chair of PCC and formerly a GP for 36 years, the National Clinical Director of Primary, Dept of Health England 2001- 10 and visiting Professor Manchester and Durham Universities.

  • What now for primary care
    4 November 2020

    By Professor David Colin-Thomé, OBE, chair of PCC and formerly a GP for 36 years, the National Clinical Director of Primary, Dept of Health England 2001- 10 and visiting Professor Manchester and Durham Universities.

  • Boosting your resilience
    30 October 2020

    The last year has been a difficult one, who would have imagined last Christmas that we would have been in lockdown, with the NHS seriously tested by a global pandemic. So much change has happened and the resilience of people working in and with health and care services has been seriously tested. Resilience is our ability to deal with, find strengths in and/or recover from difficult situations. Its sometimes referred to as “bounceabiliy” – but bouncing in what way?

  • 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/

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