Publications by authors named "Jacina Walker"

3 Publications

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Epidemiology and clinical features of COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

EClinicalMedicine 2021 Mar 1;33:100771. Epub 2021 Mar 1.

Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Australia.

Background: COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities (ACFs) often have devastating consequences. However, epidemiologically these outbreaks are not well defined. We aimed to define such outbreaks in ACFs by systematically reviewing literature published during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We searched 11 bibliographic databases for literature published on COVID-19 in ACFs between December 2019 and September 2020. Original studies reporting extractable epidemiological data as part of outbreak investigations or non-outbreak surveillance of ACFs were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. PROSPERO registration: CRD42020211424.

Findings: We identified 5,148 publications and selected 49 studies from four continents reporting data on 214,380 residents in 8,502 ACFs with 25,567 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Aged care residents form a distinct vulnerable population with single-facility attack rates of 45% [95% CI 32-58%] and case fatality rates of 23% [95% CI 18-28%]. Of the cases, 31% [95% CI 28-34%] were asymptomatic. The rate of hospitalization amongst residents was 37% [95% CI 35-39%]. Data from 21 outbreaks identified a resident as the index case in 58% of outbreaks and a staff member in 42%. Findings from the included studies were heterogeneous and of low to moderate quality in risk of bias assessment.

Interpretation: The clinical presentation of COVID-19 varies widely in ACFs residents, from asymptomatic to highly serious cases. Preventing the introduction of COVID-19 into ACFs is key, and both residents and staff are a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination. Rapid diagnosis, identification of primary and secondary cases and close contacts plus their isolation and quarantine are of paramount importance.

Funding: Queensland Advancing Clinical Research Fellowship awarded to Prof. Gulam Khandaker by Queensland Health's Health Innovation, Investment and Research Office (HIRO), Office of the Director-General.
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March 2021

Notifiable diseases after implementation of COVID-19 public health prevention measures in Central Queensland, Australia.

Commun Dis Intell (2018) 2021 Feb 26;45. Epub 2021 Feb 26.

Central Queensland Public Health Unit, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services, Rockhampton, Australia.

Abstract: The implementation of public health measures to control the current COVID-19 pandemic (such as wider lockdowns, overseas travel restrictions and physical distancing) is likely to have affected the spread of other notifiable diseases. This is a descriptive report of communicable disease surveillance in Central Queensland (CQ) for six months (1 April to 30 September 2020) after the introduction of physical distancing and wider lockdown measures in Queensland. The counts of notifiable communicable diseases in CQ in the six months were observed and compared with the average for the same months during the years 2015 to 2019. During the study's six months, there were notable decreases in notifications of most vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza, pertussis and rotavirus. Conversely, notifications increased for disease groups such as blood-borne viruses, sexually transmitted infections and vector-borne diseases. There were no reported notifications for dengue fever and malaria which are mostly overseas acquired. The notifications of some communicable diseases in CQ were variably affected and the changes correlated with the implementation of the COVID-19 public health measures.

Background: The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to some significant changes to local, regional and national public health practices including social distancing and wider lockdown. These measures have been previously reported to be associated with reductions in the incidence of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases as well as of other airborne transmitted agents.1,2 A preliminary analysis was conducted assessing the impact of these measures on nationally notifiable diseases across Australia;3 however, the impact of these measures on communicable diseases within regional Australia is not well established. Like most regional areas, Central Queensland (CQ) has a lower population density and considerable distance from major cities; it will be informative to understand how these measures impact on notifiable conditions in this regional setting. We aimed to identify the patterns of change in reported notifiable conditions to the Central Queensland Public Health Unit (CQPHU), during a six-month period (1 April to 30 September 2020) following the implementation of COVID-19 measures. Here, we compare these notifications to the surveillance data for the same six-month period for the previous five years (2015 to 2019).

Methods: The study encompasses all notifiable conditions reported from CQ, which covers approximately 226,000 population and is spread over 117,588 square kilometres. Communicable diseases data were retrieved from the Queensland Notifiable Conditions System (NoCS), an online epidemiological database, from 1 January 2015 to 30 September 2020. The data were collected under the Public Health Act 2005, a legislative authority that provides permission to access health information. Permission to publish was given by the Communicable Diseases Branch of Queensland. Data were extracted on selected notifiable diseases in Queensland: blood-borne viruses (BBV), gastrointestinal diseases, sexually transmissible infections (STIs), vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), vector-borne diseases, zoonotic diseases and other diseases. For each disease, the count for six months following the implementation of COVID-19 public health measures (1 April to 30 September 2020) was compared with the average for the same six-month period during the years 2015 to 2019.

Results: From 1 April to 30 September 2020, after the implementation of Queensland's COVID-19 preventive measures, there was a decrease seen in several diseases notifications reported to the CQPHU, mostly VPDs, when compared with the same months for each of 2015 to 2019 and for the 5-year average (2015-2019) for those months (Table 1). However, increases in notifications for April-September 2020 were observed in a greater number of other notifiable disease groups.
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February 2021

Australian beef industry worker's knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding Q fever: A pilot study.

Vaccine 2019 10 13;37(43):6336-6341. Epub 2019 Sep 13.

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Public Health Unit, Rockhampton, Australia.

Background: Q fever is a vaccine-preventable zoonotic infection with potentially severe health outcomes and high economic costs that affects agricultural workers, including beef and cattle industry workers, however this population historically have sub-optimal vaccine uptake.

Objective: To gather quantitative and qualitative pilot data from Australian beef industry workers on their knowledge, attitudes and practices around Q fever and Q fever vaccination.

Methods: A mixed methods approach was used to ascertain the Q fever disease risk perception and vaccination behavior of a purposive convenience sample of beef industry workers attending an industry expo in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia between May 7th and 9th, 2018.

Results: The quantitative survey response rate was 83% (n = 86). More than 70% of respondents reported exposure to known Q fever risk factors. Eighty six percent were aware of Q fever, the self-reported uptake of Q fever vaccine was 27% and 9% reported undertaking testing which showed evidence of previous infection. Five main themes emerged from the qualitative data: "Finding the time" among other life priorities to attend a doctor for a vaccine; "Employer responsibility" to provide the vaccine; "My doctor knows me" and could suggest Q fever vaccination; "Assigning Risk" across a range of attitudes, including thinking it would not happen to them, 'fatalism', and knowing the danger but taking the risk anyway; and "The Need for Outreach" vaccine delivery services in their communities.

Significance: These data suggest that a coordinated public health approach to testing and vaccine provision, coupled with an awareness campaign among regional doctors to prompt them to routinely ask patients about their Q fever risk and vaccination history, should form part of a broad approach to Q fever control and prevention.
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October 2019