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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Woman contracts diphtheria at Rabbits Eat Lettuce

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The organisers of the Rabbits Eat Lettuce, which took place near Casino over Easter, have announced a festival-goer has contracted diphtheria. Photo Facebook
The organisers of the Rabbits Eat Lettuce, which took place near Casino over Easter, have announced a festival-goer has contracted diphtheria. Photo Facebook

A rare case of the deadly bacterial disease diphtheria has been reported in the northern rivers and it appears that the woman contracted it while attending a doof near Casino over Easter.

As many as 10 per cent of diphtheria sufferers die from the disease, which is extremely rare in western countries.

The woman who contracted it attended the Rabbits Eat Lettuce doof and festival organisers have informed attendees on the event’s Facebook page.

Stop the Australian (Anti) Vaccination Network (SAVN) spokesperson, surgeon John Cunningham, said that diphtheria was ‘easily preventable in this day and age with a simple vaccination.’

‘This is a disease that we have’t seen in Australia for some years. In 2011 a 22-year-old unvaccinated Queensland woman died from the disease,’ Mr Cunningham said.

‘Before that there were a handful of cases in the Northern Territory in the early nineties. It would be a tragedy if this new case had a fatal outcome,’ he added.

Diphtheria is spread through coughing and sneezing, with the infected person being contagious for up to two weeks after infection.

The incubation period for diphtheria is up to 10 days, but most commonly between two and five days. People who attended Rabbits Eat Lettuce and have subsequently fallen ill within that time period are advised to seek medical attention.

Symptoms include respiratory problems, a runny nose, sore throat, hoarse voice, swollen neck glands, and fever and chills.

Complications may include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), inflammation of the nerves, kidney problems, and bleeding problems due to low blood platelets. Myocarditis may result in an abnormal heart rate and inflammation of the nerves may result in paralysis.


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  1. It appears to me that the person writing this article just used this unfortunate opportunity to have a pro vaccination rant via this guy from the SAVN – when that has nothing to do with the incident whatsoever. I would expect more fair unbiased reporting from the Echo than this. Just because people get sick does NOT mean they should get vaccinated, in every instance.

    • If you were truly a “concerned local” you wouldn’t be advocating non vaccination. Anti vaccinationism ranks alongside crystal worship as a serious vocation.

      • Agreed – at least you won’t die from worshipping crystals!

        These anti-vaccination “extremists” are gambling with their lives (and their children’s), and their beliefs have no factual basis whatsoever. It breaks my heart to see people I know refusing to vaccinate their children. They have no scientific understanding of the immune system, or of vaccines and how they work (and yes, I do – I previously worked as an immunologist).

        The re-emergence in Australia of potentially fatal diseases like diptheria and whooping cough is very concerning – thankfully I’m vaccinated!

      • Honestly there should be a vaccine for stupidity!!! Big Pharma just wants everyone to take their poisons so they can get richer, they don`t care about your health or even if you die they just want your $$$$$$$

    • I think it is very important for you to consider all aspects of the article before leaping to the anti-vax preaching.

      This is a public health issue that needs to be addressed. The local and wider community must be made aware of any outbreaks of serious diseases in order to maintain the health of all individuals. Including those that make the decision to effect the herd immunity by not partaking in the vaccination programs available.

      I fail to see the bias in this article. The quote is from a health professional, whose occupation is to understand the complexity of these health issues, hence why his response to this incident is justified.

      Perhaps you would do well to read more widely on the last incidences of Diphtheria in Australia and the clear connection with the individuals who’ve fallen ill due to lack of immunity. Lack of immunity is due to not having been vaccinated. It’s pretty simple.


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