Dr Andrew Terrey makes sure Cordin Duroux is well enough to leave Grafton Base Hospital with his mother and sister after battli
Dr Andrew Terrey makes sure Cordin Duroux is well enough to leave Grafton Base Hospital with his mother and sister after battli

What?s killing Koori people?

By BELINDA SCOTT

BOILS are just a symptom of what's killing Koori people, say medicos.

Dr John Kramer, who treated patients at Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation's weekly clinic yesterday, says the boils that have spread through the Corindi community may be painful, but they are not what is killing Aboriginal people.

Dr Kramer said the skin conditions were a symptom of an overall health disadvantage.

"The thing that struck me was that three Aboriginal people from that community, all in their early 40s, had died suddenly in the last week," Dr Kramer said.

He said one person had died of a stroke, one of a heart attack and the third in a car accident.

Dr Kramer said such premature deaths were all too common in the Aboriginal community, which had high levels of chronic illness, ear infections, diabetes and heart disease among other health problems.

The Woolgoolga-based general practitioner, who started the weekly clinic more than 10 years ago, said smoking, housing difficulties leading to frequent moves, fragmented families, disruption, stress, lack of transport to seek medical help and in some cases lower levels of nutrition were among the health problems plaguing Aboriginal people not only in the Clarence Valley, but around Australia.

He said there were 'some splendid exceptions, including remote communities with immunisation rates above 90 per cent, well above that in the white community'.

Dr Kramer said a nutritional project to provide fresh food to the community at Baryulgil, near Grafton, had seen a reduction in both ear and skin infections.

Red Rock teenager Cordin Duroux arrived home from Grafton Base Hospital yesterday after spending some time in the hospital's paediatric ward being treated for a skin infection on his face, mouth and arm. His mother, Shirley Duroux, has also suffered several painful skin infections.

Grafton's Dr Andrew Terrey, who treated Cordin in the hospital, said what had landed the teenager in hospital was that he had developed an abscess which required draining and Cordin had the MRSA (methycillin resistant) strain of staph, which did not respond to conventional antibiotics, so developed a more significant abscess.

"This was community-acquired MRSA, not hospital acquired MRSA, so the real issue is the development of this in the community," Dr Terrey said.

"There are a number of children being admitted with MRSA, and it can be quite difficult to eradicate from a family, because people can carry this organism in their nose for some time."



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