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Friday, 30 October 1964


Senator ANDERSON (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - It is true that the Acting Minister for Health yesterday released a publication giving some information on the matter referred to by the honorable senator. I believe that it is of considerable general interest. I would like to comment that infectious hepatitis has been a major public health problem in Australia for the past 12 years. Statistics are available which suggest that last year 9,513 cases were recorded throughout Australia. There were 3,840 cases in Victoria, 2,822 in New South Wales, 1,433 in Queensland, 293 in South Australia, 145 in Western Australia, 856 in Tasmania, 104 in the Northern Territory and 20 in the Australian Capital Territory. The Acting Minister for Health indicated that the National Health and Medical Research Council project at Fairfield Hospital, in Melbourne, had a research scientist. Mrs. Cole, engaged on research and that she had been able to isolate a virus from hepatitis sufferers. The scientist, an American woman virologist working under a Council grant, is at present carrying out an extensive series of tests to confirm that the virus she has isolated is that of hepatitis. She is also trying to find out whether there is more than one type of the virus. Tt may well be some years before it is possible to produce a vaccine against hepatitis. This could be done only after the hepatitis virus had been definitely identified and when the feat of culturing it had become a routine rather than, as at present, a most difficult achievement.

The Acting Minister for Health pointed out that there was a degree of scientific caution at this stage but that everybody felt confident that the virus had been isolated by Mrs. Cole, who is the worker involved.

If this is so, it will make a tremendous contribution to the health of the Australian community in the future.







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