Breaking News from Perth Australia
Breaking news from Perth and Western Australia, plus a local perspective on national, world, business and sport news.
'I found my breast cancer getting a fake tan': A young Scarborough woman's story of survival - WAtoday
Cancer was not among Rhianne Miller's birthday wishes, but barely a week after turning 32 the sales rep's life was flipped upside down by a small lump on the side of her breast.
She still jokes about getting PTSD every time she sees a tan bottle and a mitten. "It changed my world in an instant," Ms Miller, now 34, said. "Everything that was a bother, everything that I thought was a worry in my life at that point just completely stopped." Breast cancer wasn't even on Ms Miller's radar. The Cancer Council recommends women aged between 50 and 74 have screening mammograms every two years. Women aged 40 with a family history of cancer can also sign up to get screened. At 32, Ms Miller fell into neither of those categories. "For me breast cancer was: 'You can start having a mammogram at 40 so I'll start worrying about it at 40.' It's one of those things that you put in the I'll-think-about-you-later basket," she said. After two years of treatment, Ms Miller was finally declared cancer-free in February. But the same treatment that saved her life also irreversibly damaged her body and hijacked her plans for motherhood. Her current medication, an anti-recurrence drug named tamoxifen she will need to take for five years, has sent Ms Miller into chemically-induced menopause. Ms Miller shaved her head alongside her three closest friends in January 2019. Among its side effects which include mental fog, heat flushes, and fatigue is also the risk of severe malformations in children, which puts Ms Miller's dreams of falling pregnant on hold. By the time the effects of the medication wear off, Ms Miller will be able to try for a baby at age 40 but her ovaries, prematurely aged due to chemotherapy, will be akin to those of a 46-year-old. "I've basically lost 10 years of my life in a way of making plans or doing things," she said. Far from being out of the woods yet, she is also faced with the tough choice of having her second breast removed, which would give her a higher chance of remaining cancer-free. But the young Gage Roads Brewing beer rep doesn't sweat the small stuff anymore. "I just choose to be happy every single day because it's the only way to really be. It's the only way to be vibrant, it's the only way to get nothing really bother you," she said. "While it was hard, it shows you that your body can get you through anything, but mindset is 90 per cent of the battle. Strip it back to basics. Don't sweat the small stuff. Don't worry about things. Be calm and be happy and you'll just glow in a different way. You just really do. Ms Miller hopes to encourage more young women to be breast cancer aware. "If anything, cancer has given me an appreciation for life that I would never have gotten if I didn't go through it. It was a big learning curve for me but I feel very happy with where I'm at with my life." According to the Cancer Council, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Australia, and the second-most common cancer to cause death in women. Modelling from the Australian government predicts 19,807 women will be diagnosed with the disease this year and about 2997 will die. Breast Cancer Awareness Month runs from October 1-31 every year and encourages women to check their breasts for symptoms and share useful information with family and friends. For more information check the government's Cancer Australia website. Marta is an award-winning photographer and journalist with a focus on social justice issues and local government.
What is MIS-A? Doctors discuss COVID-19 linked syndrome in adults - TODAY
MIS-A: multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults. What doctors want people to know about the illness, related to MIS-C.
It was a rash that tipped Dr. Alisa Femia off. Femia, director of inpatient dermatology at NYU Langone Health in New York City, was looking at a patient's chart, which included several photos of the 45-year-old man who had, in recent weeks, cared for his wife while she was sick with COVID-19. The man had dusky-red circular patches on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet. His eyes were pink, and his lips were extremely chapped. His body was erupting with the kind of extreme inflammation noted almost exclusively in children at the time. "Before I even saw the patient," Femia recalled, "I said: 'This hasn't been reported yet. This must be MIS-A.'" MIS-A stands for "multi-system inflammatory syndrome in adults." When the condition was identified in children this spring, it was named MIS-C, with the C standing for "children." Kids were developing dangerous inflammation around the heart and other organs, often weeks after their initial infections with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted physicians to MIS-C in May. As of Oct. 1, the CDC had reported 1,027 confirmed cases of MIS-C, with more cases under investigation. Twenty children have died. In some cases, the children developed rashes like the one Femia noted in her adult patient. Femia and colleagues published details of the case in The Lancet in July to alert other physicians to be on the lookout for similar patients. "The skin's right there in front of your eyes," Femia said. "You can't not see it." But many doctors may not, in fact, be recognizing the condition in adults. Just a few dozen cases of MIS-A have been reported. And not all patients have obvious rashes. Dr. Sapna Bamrah Morris, clinical lead for the Health Care Systems and Worker Safety Task Force, part of the CDC's COVID-19 response, detailed 27 cases in a report the agency published last week. MIS-A's "true prevalence is unknown," Morris said. "We have to get physicians realizing that. It may be rare, but we don't know. It might be more common than we think." Negative tests Part of the problem is that the virus has been circulating among humans for less than a year. Doctors worldwide are still learning about how SARS-CoV-2 acts in patients. Typically, severely ill COVID-19 patients tend to arrive at the hospital because they're having trouble breathing. That hasn't been the case with MIS-A. Many MIS-A patients report fevers, chest pain or other heart problems, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues but not shortness of breath. And diagnostic tests for COVID-19 tend to be negative. Instead, patients will test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, meaning they were infected two to six weeks previously, even if they never had symptoms. "Just because someone doesn't present with respiratory symptoms as their primary manifestation does not mean that what they're experiencing isn't as a result of COVID-19," Morris said. The illness can be life-threatening. Patients usually have some kind of severe dysfunction of at least one organ, such as the heart or the liver. Ten patients in the CDC report needed to be hospitalized in intensive care units. Some needed to be put on ventilators. Two have died. What's more, the CDC report showed that members of racial and ethnic minority groups appear to be disproportionately affected. Nearly all patients with MIS-A were African American or Hispanic. But far too few cases have been reported to fully understand the underlying mechanisms at play. While some kind of genetic link may be possible, COVID-19 has been shown to "disproportionately affect underrepresented minorities, probably due to socioeconomic factors," Femia said. Underlying health conditions that raise the risk for COVID-19 complications, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, also tend to be more prevalent among members of racial and ethnic minority groups. Over the summer, doctors in Florida started seeing surges in COVID-19 cases. Dr. Lilian Abbo, chief of infection prevention for Jackson Health System in Miami, recalls a "very high volume of people coming through our emergency departments or hospitals getting very sick." The most sensitive and reliable test for COVID-19, called a PCR test, wasn't always available, and it could take several days to return results. Abbo turned to antibody testing to get the influx of patients triaged to a COVID-19 unit or elsewhere in the health system. People generally develop antibodies to an infection within about a week or so. At least it would give Abbo and her colleagues an indication that COVID-19 was involved somehow in their patients' symptoms, she reasoned. It was then that Abbo discovered a subset of patients who were critically ill after having had COVID-19, but without the telltale pulmonary issues of an acute infection. "We were a little disconcerted," Abbo said. "We would do the molecular PCR tests, and they would be negative. Then the antibody tests were positive." Further blood tests revealed extremely high levels of inflammation in the body. What's more, while most severely ill COVID-19 patients tend to be over age 65 or to have multiple underlying health problems, these patients "were younger people that you would expect to not get sick," Abbo said. "That's what caught our attention." MIS-A treatment There's no proven treatment for MIS-A. "We need to recognize this syndrome and develop data" to figure out which therapies may be most effective," Abbo said. "We are all just shooting blind." Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of infectious diseases and tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, points out that the CDC case reports show that doctors have tried a variety of medications for MIS-A patients, including steroids and drugs that might affect the immune system, called interleukin-6 inhibitors. "The problem with these diseases is that we don't know the mechanisms that are causing MIS-A and MIS-C," Weatherhead said. "It's difficult to know what the standard treatment should be until we have more information." In children, MIS-C is generally treated with intravenous immunoglobulin, a blood product containing a variety of antibodies. That can be used for adults, too, but the effects are largely unproven. Intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIG, is different from another blood-derived antibody treatment, convalescent plasma. The latter is taken from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies specifically targeted to the virus in their blood. IVIG, on the other hand, is more of a hodgepodge of antibodies that aren't specific to the coronavirus. The thinking is that MIS-A patients already have COVID-19 antibodies, so adding more with convalescent plasma is unlikely to help. The current theory for MIS-A patients is that "the infection, as far as we know, is gone," said Dr. Hugh Cassiere, director of critical care services for Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital, part of Northwell Health, on Long Island, New York. "It's the antibodies that have been produced that seem to be causing a problem," he said. Cassiere was part of a large team of physicians who treated the surge of COVID-19 patients in New York this spring. Even though MIS-A hadn't been identified at the time, Cassiere is convinced that such patients existed all along. "We were seeing patients who admitted to the ICU with organ failure," Cassiere said. They would test negative for COVID-19, he said, but test positive for COVID-19 antibodies, suggesting they'd been infected previously. "You look back, and they probably had this multi-system inflammatory syndrome," Cassiere said. "We didn't have all the pieces to put together." Months later, the puzzle is beginning to reveal itself. But it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach to identify patients with MIS-A. "This needs to be in the forefront of every intensive care unit physician's mind who's seeing patients, especially when they have COVID-19 antibodies," Cassiere said. Given Femia's experience, that includes those who specialize in dermatology. "This is really the beauty of medicine, where, for this syndrome, many different specialists need to come together to help make the diagnosis," Femia said. Physicians worry that many MIS-A patients will go undetected and perhaps untreated. "There's not enough data for me to tell you what the long-term effects of this could be," Cassiere said. "This may be the tip of the iceberg. That's what I'm worried about." This story was originally published on NBC News.
Why Bradley Edwards was acquitted of Sarah's murder, and how her family may yet find justice - The Age
It's the question the entire state will be asking. How could Justice Stephen Hall convict a confessed rapist of two brutal murders, but not the third?
And ultimately the court agreed. If the inference was reasonably open that someone else had killed Ms Spiers, the judge had to acquit Edwards of her murder. "The evidence of [Edwards'] propensity to kill may make him a likely suspect, or even the probable killer, but it does not exclude the real possibility that some other person killed her," Justice Hall wrote in his judgement. "If an inference consistent with innocence is open then the accused cannot be found guilty." While forensic evidence tied Edwards to the murders of Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon, the argument the 51-year-old murdered Ms Spiers was circumstantial and relied on Justice Hall finding whoever murdered one, murdered all. Although it was agreed Ms Spiers was dead, her body had not been found. Justice Hall said "she was abducted and killed by some person". "The absence of a body means that the prosecution case is significantly more limited than in the case of Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon," he wrote in his judgment. The similarities between the deaths of all women "do not allow a conclusion to be reached beyond reasonable doubt that the person who killed Ms Rimmer and Ms Glennon must necessarily be the same person as killed Ms Spiers". Justice Hall found inconsistencies in the evidence relating to screams heard by witnesses that the prosecution said belonged to Ms Spiers. This left just "propensity evidence", which referred to the tendency of Edwards to violently attack and abduct young women from the Claremont area, kill them and dispose of their bodies in semi-rural locations. As the defence argued, without physical evidence linking Edwards to the death of Ms Spiers, there is a reasonable inference someone else could have committed the crime. During the trial, Justice Hall warned propensity evidence alone was not enough for a conviction. Mr Yovich argued the lack of evidence for Ms Spiers' case "justified an acquittal" and described any linking of her murder to Ms Rimmer's and Ms Glennon's as "superficial". "No doubt the community and the families of the victims yearn for closure ... but a conviction or convictions founded on inadequate evidence ... will not constitute proper closure," he said. How can the family of Sarah Spiers now find justice? Ms Spiers' family, along with many West Australians, will be searching for justice after Edwards was acquitted of her murder. There are two ways forward. On the one hand, it is open for the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal the acquittal of Edwards. On the other, police could still search for evidence in the hope of a retrial. Don and Carol Spiers leave the District Court in Perth after Bradley Edwards was acquitted of the murder of their daughter Sarah.Credit:Nathan Hondros Even though Justice Hall found he could not convict Edwards on the evidence, he found he was "the probable killer" of Ms Spiers. Physical evidence tying Edwards to her death, along with the circumstantial evidence the prosecution has already led in evidence, might turn the tables. But a new trial with new evidence is not straightforward and not guaranteed. Before 2012, an accused could not be retried after they were acquitted of a crime. But legislation introduced by the Barnett government means prosecutors can apply to the Supreme Court to retry an acquitted person if fresh and compelling evidence has come to light. So are police actively searching for fresh evidence? WA Premier Mark McGowan promised to commit "whatever" resources police require to bring closure to the family of Ms Spiers. He urged Edwards to tell police the location of her body. Police Commissioner Chris Dawson played his cards close to his chest when asked about police plans to further investigate Ms Spiers' death after the verdict was delivered on Thursday. "Bradley Edwards is yet to be sentenced, so its not a proper time for me to be making any comment in regard to that," he said. "We have to allow the justice system to take its course. Post the sentencing of Mr Edwards we may be in a better position to answer that question, but I'll just repeat the investigation into the murder of Sarah Spiers remains open and we will continue to actively investigate it." As heartbreaking it is for her family, the wait for justice might go on for more years yet.
- with Heather McNeill and Hamish Hastie
Mother of Jimmy O'Reilly airlifted to hospital following serious crash two days after finding her missing son - WAtoday
After finding Jimmy the family spoke of their relief and jubilation but on Monday afternoon Ms Buckley was airlifted by the RAC helicopter to Bunbury hospital after a serious crash.
The mother of the boy who went missing for 12 hours in dense South West bushland on the weekend has suffered another stroke of bad luck after being involved in a car crash requiring her to be airlifted to hospital. WA rallied around Michelle Buckley and Christoper O'Reilly as they were frantically trying to find their three-year-old son Jimmy O'Reilly on Saturday in bushland near their Yallinghup AirBNB accommodation. After finding him 12 hours later 2 kilometres from the home they spoke of their relief and jubilation but on Monday afternoon Ms Buckley was airlifted by the RAC helicopter to Bunbury hospital after a serious crash. She was less than 1 kilometre away from their accommodation when the Holden Commodore she was driving on Injidup Spring Road crashed into a tree.
Newman residents' pollution worries grow as air quality report gathers dust - WAtoday
Residents in a Pilbara town don't know if the dust blanketing their homes could harm them, two years after the government committed to testing the air for harmful particles.
"I always thought pollution was something associated with big industrial cities until a few years ago when I read that Newman was the second-most polluted town in Australia," she said. "I was shocked to learn that dust is pollution." Two years ago, the Shire of East Pilbara announced it had partnered with the state government to monitor the town's dust over a year in a WA-first study. The program was designed to identify what particles were suspended in the town's ambient air and if there was any asbestos or other harmful substances present. Newman is located fewer than 300 kilometres away from Wittenoom, an asbestos mining town degazetted in 2007 over concerns about the link between asbestos and health issues. Hundreds of people who worked in the town have since died from mesothelioma, a lung disease linked to asbestos exposure. Dust monitoring ended in July 2019 and by December that year a report containing the findings was nearly finalised, but two years after the program began the report is yet to be made public. In July, following a request from WAtoday, a spokesman for the Department of Water and Environmental Regulations said it would be published in the coming weeks. Now, the government says the report won't be until later in the year. In the meantime, residents like Ms Wilmot are left to deal with the relentless dust problem without knowing whether it contains particles that might be deadly. WA's Department of Health lists dust as an air pollutant which can increase the risk of heart disease and cause respiratory problems if small particles are inhaled over a long period of time. It can also lead to eye irritation, coughing, sneezing, hay fever, and asthma attacks, although it is not believed to cause asthma to develop in non-asthmatic patients. "I was delighted to learn two years ago that the dust would be monitored and we would get some facts," Ms Wilmot said. "The air quality monitoring done during the eastern state's bushfires was done in real-time and directives of responses were given in real-time. "How is it that Newman takes two years and counting?" Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said he was aware elevated levels of dust had been measured in the mining hub, but was yet to see the results of the campaign. "There are various sources of dust in the region including from mining operations, natural events and local activities that potentially contribute to dust levels in the town," he said. "I am keen to see both the findings from the monitoring campaign and the licence review to ensure industry is doing everything it can to manage dust." Marta is an award-winning photographer and journalist with a focus on social justice issues and local government.
New buyback scheme needed to save WA from blackouts as love for solar burns strong - WAtoday
Energy Minister Bill Johnston said a record low of 1053 megawatts passed through the state’s grid on the weekend.
Western Australias electricity grid recorded the lowest energy use ever on the weekend, beating the previous record by about 70 megawatts and prompting blackout concerns. Speaking to Radio 6PRs Gareth Parker on Monday, Energy Minister Bill Johnston said a record low of 1053 megawatts passed through the states grid on the weekend. According to the Australian Energy Market Operator, summer peak demand hits about 4000 megawatts while average demand hovers around 2000 megawatts. Solar panels are causing volatility in the WA grid.Credit:SMH That low number is being driven by WAs feverish uptake of rooftop solar over the past decade, which has reduced reliance on the states coal and gas-fired power stations. About 29 per cent of WA households had rooftop solar installed and the AEMO expected it to reach 2612 megawatts of installed capacity by 2029-30, making it the single largest electricity generator on the system.
Quarantine breach forces Northbridge hotel shut on busy Friday night - WAtoday
A man has been placed under police guard in a Perth hotel after he allegedly breached quarantine rules to go to a Northbridge bar just hours after landing in Western Australia from Queensland.
Police swooped onto the Lake Street premises shortly after, arresting the man and telling punters attending a karaoke night to head straight home and quarantine. Officers wearing masks took down the partygoers' details and told them to get tested for COVID-19, but would not confirm whether anyone at the premises had tested positive for the virus. Attendees at the karaoke night said some patrons went out to other venues after the hotel was shut despite being told to self-isolate. Hotel Northbridge closed down for the rest of the night while staff carried out a thorough clean of the facilities. The man has since tested negative for COVID-19 and has been placed under 24-hour police guard in a hotel while he awaits formal charges. WA Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Paul Steel said there was no requirement from any bargoers to self-isolate or get tested for COVID-19. "The COVID risk last night was deemed to be very low but as a precaution, and we commend the hotel for doing so, they chose to close the hotel to look after their staff and their patrons," he said. "They took the matter seriously, we took breaches of quarantine seriously." Premier Mark McGowan said the government would not tolerate the man's "unacceptable behaviour" and he would be left to face "the serious penalties that come with breaking our border laws". "There is no excuses for lying your way into our state," he said. "It sends a message that anyone thinking to sneak into WA you will get caught." But following the news, the WA president of the Australian Medical Association Andrew Miller took aim at the state government's management of quarantine requirements, saying it had "leaks all over the place" that could lead to a second wave the likes of Victoria. Dr Miller urged the McGowan Government to get serious about monitoring returned travellers, using technology like apps and GPS tracking ankle bracelets to ensure people complied with orders. "I think the government has been enjoying a lot of popularity with the closed border but it's looking like a bit of a one-trick pony at the moment," Dr Miller said. Marta is an award-winning photographer and journalist with a focus on social justice issues and local government.
Perth woman who hid in truck to enter WA from Victoria cops harshest penalty yet - WAtoday
A Perth woman who hid in a Victorian truck to sneak into WA without quarantining has been jailed for six months.
"The fact you've come from Victoria is specifically concerning given that's really the hotspot for COVID-19 in Australia and your actions really undo what this government in WA has done to prevent the community spread of this hideous virus," he said. The court heard Van Der Sanden, who is unemployed, had been in Victoria for one month visiting her unwell sister when she was granted an exemption to return to WA. The exemption required her to complete 14 days hotel quarantine on arrival at her own expense ($2500). She instead asked a truck driver at a Mildura roadhouse in regional Victoria for a lift to Perth around July 31. That same day Victoria recorded 557 new coronavirus cases. Her boyfriend Shaun Pilmer faced court on Tuesday accused of the same charge as Van Der Sanden. He was granted bail to reappear in court on September 22. In early July, the WA government tightened its requirements for people entering the state from Victoria in response to Melbourne's second wave of COVID-19 infections. The new rules required those entering from Victoria to complete 14 days hotel quarantine at their own expense, rather than 14 days self-isolation at their home, as is required for arrivals from other states. Outside court, Van Der Sanden's lawyer John Hammond said the sentence would send a strong message to the community. Van Der Sanden will be eligible for parole after serving three months at Bandyup Women's Prison. At least five people have been sentenced in WA for failing to comply with the Emergency Management Act direction. Jonathon David, 35, from Victoria was ordered to serve an immediate prison term of one month after he repeatedly breached hotel quarantine to buy food and visit his girlfriend in Armadale in April. Douglas Nothdurft, 33, from Queensland was jailed for an immediate term of four weeks after walking out of his hotel quarantine and going on an alcohol and meth binge in Perth's CBD for "a few days" during the same month. Two women who flew in from Adelaide and escaped hotel quarantine that same night received a suspended prison term and $5000 fine respectively, while a Northam farmer was also fined for failing to self-isolate.
Victorian FIFO worker cops $5000 fine after breaching quarantine to fly to Pilbara site - The Age
The man was charged with one count of failing to comply with a direction by police and was ordered to isolate immediately by BHP.
A Victorian fly-in, fly-out worker who flouted quarantine rules to fly to a Pilbara mine site hours after landing in Western Australia has been fined $5000 in court. Fabian Michael D'Costa, a 49-year-old contractor for iron ore miner BHP, landed at Perth Airport from Victoria on July 3. The man failed to self-isolate after landing in WA from Victoria in early July.Credit:Jacky Ghossein Police said D'Costa was issued with a self-quarantine direction upon arrival as per border rules, which required him to isolate in suitable accommodation for 14 days. But instead, the Geelong resident flew directly to a BHP mine site in the Pilbara where he started work without self-isolating.
'Unforgivable': The privacy breach that exposed sensitive details of WA's virus fight - The Age
Technology expert Trevor Long said he was stunned to see highly-sensitive medical details "flying around" on an unsecured network.
"This is an extraordinary and unacceptable breach of privacy and questions the integrity of the coronavirus response in WA," he said. "This needs to be remedied immediately and an inquiry held." More than 400 webpages many communications and messages between health officials and doctors were posted to the website. They include details of people in quarantine and how their cases are being managed. The website includes phone numbers and addresses. "The fact that this is even happening, and presumably theres been a vulnerability since the get-go of the pandemic, speaks to the design of the response," Dr Miller said. "If I hadnt seen it with my own eyes, I would find it hard to believe. We want answers from the top immediately as to how they will fix it. "Its unforgivable." As of 6pm tonight, the website and its contents were still public. Premier Mark McGowan said the communications system that had been intercepted was switched off when his government was alerted to what was happening. "The breach of confidential data is associated with the use of a third-party pager service," a spokesman for the Premier said. "The Department of Health immediately contacted the vendor and asked that the paging component of its service be ceased until the issue is addressed." Technology expert Trevor Long said he was stunned to see highly-sensitive medical details "flying around" on an unsecured network. "It's almost outrageous to think that in this modern age these open and public systems would be used to disseminate this sort of information," he said. "They urgently need to find a better and encrypted way of transferring this sort of information from one health official to another." "Patient confidentiality is of utmost importance to the Department of Health and the State Government," the Premiers office said. "The State Government and WA Police are attempting to have the site shut down as quickly as possible." A review of Health Department data systems is also under way.