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Biting midges on the rise

This is the time of the year when biting midges are out in force. High numbers are expected from 8 to 14 August coinciding with the new moon, with a further increase around the full moon from 23 to 29 August.

Director of Medical Entomology Nina Kurucz advised Top End residents and visitors to avoid midge bites by covering up, using insect repellents and avoiding mangrove areas where biting midges are present, especially late in the afternoon and early in the morning.

“Cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, socks and shoes and apply DEET or picaridin-based insect repellents to exposed skin,” Ms Kurucz said.

“Mosquito lanterns and insecticide barrier applications in backyards also help to reduce numbers.”

Highest biting midge numbers will occur within 1.5 km of extensive areas of NT coastal mangroves.

“Due to increasing tides, peak biting midge activity will occur from now until the first heavy monsoonal rains occur. Numbers are highest three days before and after full moons, and to a lesser extent around new moons,” Ms Kurucz said.

“The pain, swelling and itchiness biting midge bites can cause is due to the chemicals contained in the saliva injected into the human hosts.

“Although biting midges do not transmit disease, people should avoid scratching the bites because this can easily break the skin, introducing bacterial infections that can lead to unsightly sores and infections.”

While soothing lotions and ice packs may provide relief from itchy bites, severe reactions may require medical attention.

A 2018 calendar detailing expected biting midge pest periods is available at:

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Two cases of meningococcal W confirmed in Top End

Two cases of meningococcal W (MenW) disease have been confirmed in the Top End of the Northern Territory.

One woman in the urban Darwin area has recovered and been discharged from Royal Darwin Hospital however a second woman, from a remote Top End community, has died.

The second woman became unwell on 31 July and was airlifted to Royal Darwin Hospital but died on 2 August.

The cases are not related to an outbreak in Central Australia late last year nor did either case have contact with the other.

The Centre for Disease Control's (CDC) Dr Vicki Krause said appropriate public health action had been taken in both cases ensuring that clearance antibiotics  and meningococcal ACWY vaccinations had been provided to family members.

The meningococcal ACWY vaccination is included in the immunisation schedule for all children 0-12 months in the Northern Territory. This was introduced in December 2017 and 75% of children have received the vaccination in this schedule.

Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but very serious disease. It is treatable with antibiotics but the infection can progress very quickly. It is important for people to be aware of the symptoms and to seek medical advice early for either themselves or their children if they have any concerns.

Symptoms include fever, headache, neck stiffness, an aversion to bright lights, a rash and joint pain. Those affected may also have vomiting and diarrhoea, be difficult to wake up and babies may refuse food and drink and have a high pitched cry.

Concerned parents should book an appointment with their GP to discuss vaccinating their children.

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Palmerston Regional Hospital Community Day

Come and check out the new Palmerston Regional Hospital (PRH) on Saturday 11 August from 9am until 1pm.

Visitors will have the opportunity to tour areas of the hospital and become familiar with layout of services offered at the new facility.

There will also be food, coffee, face painting, a croc obstacle course for the kids and other exhibitions. Mix 104.9 FM will be there broadcasting live.


Access to the Community Day will be via a park and ride service. There will be no public parking on site.

Buses leave every 15 minutes from the Palmerston Civic Centre car park, near the post office on 5 Ash Lane (off University Avenue) in Palmerston. It is approximately a 10 minute bus ride to get to the hospital.

For more information, check out our Community Day event on the NT Health Facebook page.

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Register to save a life during DonateLife Week

The Central Australia Health Service (CAHS) is encouraging people to register to become an organ and tissue donor this week during DonateLife Week.

Anyone can be a donor and registering online can make a real difference to someone on the organ donor waiting list.

Leanne Maloney knows what it is like to be on that waiting list.

Not only does she work with patients who are on dialysis, but Leanne is a recipient of a donor kidney herself.

Leanne works as an executive administration officer at the CAHS Renal Unit on Flynn Drive in Alice Springs.

She was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 17 and 11 years later was informed that she had to go onto dialysis.

“I started peritoneal dialysis in 2014 and I was put on the waiting list for a new kidney two years later. I also started work at the dialysis unit in 2014, which was a blessing in disguise. The support I received from the staff there was incredible.”

It was during DonateLife Week one year ago that Leanne received a phone call that would change her life forever.

“When I received the call from the doctor letting me know that they had found a donor match for me I was extremely relieved. I had been on the waiting list for about two and a half years.

“I was very lucky that my body accepted the new kidney and the transplant means that I can now live my life without dialysis.

“I now just take pleasure in the simple things that were difficult to do when I was on dialysis like shopping, visiting family and going on walks.

“I wanted to tell my story so that it might encourage people to register as a donor.”

It is easy to register as an organ and tissue donor. All you need is your Medicare card and the internet.

The Central Australia Health Service will be participating in the DonateLife week activities in Alice Springs, which includes the five kilometre Todd River Run on Saturday 4 August.

Donate Life Week is from the 29 July – 5 August 2018.

You can find out more information about registering as an organ and tissue donor at

Leanne Maloney (jpg 4 mb)

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A new sensory garden at the Tamarind Centre to improve mental health

The Tamarind Centre opened their 'Akuna' sensory garden this week, providing Top End Mental Health Service consumers,  and staff with a calming outdoor space to relax and reflect.

Established through the SafeCARE Top End program, the sensory garden will provide mental health consumers, carers and staff with a safe place to meditate, talk and connect to nature.  After months of preliminary work, consumers, staff, community groups and local businesses all chipped in to create the space at an all-day working bee held earlier in the year.

Janice Trezise from the Top End Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Service said there was strong evidence to suggest that environmental dynamics can assist in reducing conflict and spending time in nature can provide a range of health benefits, including reduced stress and improved mental health.

“Our new sensory garden is a space conducive of healing and provides a culturally appropriate area for our consumers to relax and connect with clinicians,” she said.

“It is already being used for meetings and catch-ups in a way that was not possible before the new garden was built.

“Designed with input from our consumers and staff, the garden features a variety of native bush tucker plants, which have significant spiritual and cultural connection to consumers in the Top End.

“Incorporating sound, visual, touch, and smell the garden has been designed to enhance the general well-being of visitors. It boasts colourful trees and flowers, herb and vegetable gardens and seated areas encouraging relaxation and tranquillity.

“Without the support of our consumers, staff, local community groups and local businesses, the space wouldn’t have come to life, thank you to everyone involved the working bee. It is a testament to the community and our staff’s commitment to patient centred care.”

Sensory gardens have proven therapeutic value and are known to make a great contribution to emotional and physical health. The Cowdy Ward and Joan Ridley Unit at Royal Darwin Hospital also incorporate sensory gardens in their space which have proven to be very popular with consumers and staff alike.

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Honouring the contribution of Aboriginal women in health during NAIDOC Week

The Central Australia Health Service is celebrating the extraordinary legacy of Aboriginal women during NAIDOC Week, 8–15 July.

The theme of NAIDOC Week is ‘Because of her, we can’. We pay tribute to two strong Central Australian Aboriginal women, who worked in health and who, against all odds, became registered nurses in the 1960s.

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Stay alert and don’t get hurt this Territory Day

The Department of Health wishes everyone a safe and happy Territory Day on 1 July.

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Rotavirus outbreak in the Northern Territory

“Since late May there have been 23 cases reported, mostly in children from Central Australia, but further spread is likely”,  Centre for Disease Control Director, Dr Vicki Krause said.

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New Volunteer Program at Royal Darwin Hospital

Members of the community wishing to volunteer at Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) will now have the opportunity to do so, with the launch of a new Top End Health Service Volunteer Program today.

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New machine brings sole to the Alice Springs Hospital

The Central Australia Health Service’s Podiatry, Prosthetics and Orthotics department at the Alice Springs Hospital recently acquired an Orthema CAD/CAM Orthotic fabrication system. The technology will help to cut down the time it takes to prescribe and manufacture custom made foot orthoses for people suffering from foot problems requiring Prosthetic or Podiatry care.

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