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Health alert: COVID-19

Visitors are currently welcome at our facilities. Please refer to visitor restrictions for more information. Read more about COVID-19 testingvaccination, our COVID-19 response and the latest Queensland Government information.

Public Health Unit

Warnings and alerts

You can keep up-to-date with health related information on both the Metro South Health and Queensland Health Facebook pages.


Our role

The Metro South Public Health Unit is one of thirteen Public Health Units across Queensland. Our primary role is to enhance the health of our entire community by preventing the spread of disease, managing environmental risks and advocating for a safer society.

Our focus is on how society can maximise their health and wellbing - what people can do for themselves as well as the role of other organisations to ensure good health in our community, as well as a safe environment.

Our team

Our team is made up of public health doctors, environmental health officers, public health nurses, epidemiologists, public health officers, contact tracers, administration officers and investigators. Each team member is integral to the overall success of our unit and this was evidenced during our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, measles outbreak and flood events.

Our work

We use a range of evidence-based, targeted programs to keep our communities healthy and safe.

These public health matters include:

  • communicable diseases
  • immunisations
  • localised environmental health risks such as:
    • safe food and water
    • safer workplaces and communities
    • safer medicine and poisons management
    • water fluoridation
    • control of tobacco
    • food-borne outbreaks
  • health disasters and emergencies
  • medical entomology
  • disease and injury prevention
  • support healthy lifestyles and behaviours and much more.

Through health promotion and early detection, together we can empower better health within our community.

Communicable disease control

Communicable diseases are diseases that can spread from person to person. Most people will have a communicable disease in their lifetime.

While the majority of communicable diseases are mild and only last for a few days, some cases can be much more serious. 

It is important that steps are taken to help monitor, prevent and respond to communicable diseases in our community, including contact tracing when required. 

Contact tracing is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to someone who has been infected with the virus to prevent it spreading further through the community. It is an important tool for controlling the spread of the virus.

Contact tracing is also used to control the spread of other infectious illnesses such as meningococcal disease, tuberculosis and sexually transmissible infections and blood-borne viruses.

Our unit provides the following advice and support to individuals and businesses, in line with the Public Health Act 2005:

  • Rapid response to communicable diseases and outbreaks of public health importance e.g. common flu or COVID in a residential aged care facility.
  • Surveillance and prevention of transmission of vaccine preventable diseases e.g. Measles.
  • Surveillance and transmission of institutional respiratory and gastroenteritis outbreaks such as residential aged care facilities and childcare centres.
  • Surveillance and transmission of vector-borne diseases (e.g. Ross River virus).
  • Blood-borne diseases e.g. Hepatitis B and C.
  • Food borne diseases e.g. Salmonella. 
  • Maintenance of communication systems and processes that provide timely and accurate information to the public about communicable disease. 

If you have a question about a communicable disease, contact Queensland Health or speak to your doctor.

Environmental health hazards

Environmental health hazards such as water, air pollution, animals, extreme weather or chemical exposures can affect our health.

Our Environmental Health Unit is a branch of public health that focuses on protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of individuals and our community, through preventing illness and injury that arises from environmental health hazards. These hazards can include physical, chemical, biological and social environmental factors, such as:

  • food and water safety standards
  • quality standards and safe use of medicines and poisons
  • tobacco control
  • communicable disease control, including mosquito borne diseases
  • radiation safety
  • environmental toxins
  • health impact/risk assessments; and
  • regulation of pest management licences.

We achieve this work through:

  • Administering, monitoring, enforcing and promoting compliance with the following legislation:
    • Food Act 2006
    • Health Act 1937
    • Medicines and Poisons Act 2019
    • Pest Management Act 2001
    • Tobacco and other Smoking Products Act 1998
    • Water Fluoridation Act 2008
    • Radiation Safety Act 1999; and
    • Public Health Act 2005
  • Licensing particular activities and monitoring compliance.
  • Health risk assessments on a range of environmental health hazards. 
  • Working collaboratively with other Public Health specialties (Medical Entomology, Public Health Medicine, Epidemiologists and Public Health Nurses).
  • Provide expert advice and guidance on environmental health hazards.
  • Risks and impacts of land use planning and development.

For more information on environmental hazards, or if you would like to report an issue, visit Industry and environmental health at Queensland Health.

Food safety and standards

Queensland has strict regulations and standards for the food industry to ensure that food sold in Queensland is safe, suitable and correctly labelled – whether local or imported.

To help ensure these regulations and standards are met under under the Food Act 1984, we work collaboratively with other organisations, to help ensure: 

  • Food for sale is safe and suitable for human consumption.
  • Prevention of misleading information or behaviour in relation to the sale of food.
  • Ensuring standards for food safety and hygiene meet minimum requirements.
  • Ensuring fit-out of food premises are suitable.
  • Labelling, composition and advertising of food is available and accurate.

If you have a complaint or issue in relation to food being sold in the Metro South Region, please contact Queensland Government.

Health promotion

Everyone will visit their doctor or hospital in their lifetime, but these visits can be reduced by taking care of our own health on a day-to-day basis. 

Health promotion aims to engage and empower individuals and communities to lead healthier lifestyles every day to reduce the risk of illness, disease and other injuries.

To support health promotion, our unit provides advice and guidance to our community about:

  • Improving physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Preventing diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. 
  • Organisations and health services, and much more.

You can learn about upcoming health promotion campaigns at Queensland Health or find out what health and wellbeing activities are being held in your local area.

Immunisations

Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases before they come into contact with them.

Immunisation protects both individuals and other community members by reducing the spread of preventable diseases. 

Our unit coordinates immunisation programs locally in Metro South Health in collaboration with general practices, schools, hospitals and other organisations to ensure our community has safe and easy access to vaccines, when and where they need it. 

For the latest immunisation program view Immunisation at Queensland Health.

Public health incident management

Major public health incidents may arise from natural disasters, disease outbreaks, criminal acts, bioterrorism and environmental or food contamination. When these public health events occur, Queensland Health is at the forefront for planning, response and recovery. 

Our Unit operates under a range of legislation and policies to ensure effective risk management is in place at a local level, helping to maximise saving lives, protecting people and make an affected area safe again. 

This work is achieved in close relationship with government counterparts (particularly local Councils) and the public to assist them on the ground, if and when required.

Our duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Provide expert public health advice including local risk assessments on public health issues, such as:
    • communicable diseases
    • drinking and recreational water quality, 
    • medicines and poisons, 
    • food safety, 
    • hazardous waste, 
    • pest management; and,
    • vaccine supply (cold chain management) and radiation health.
  • Provide public health messages. 
  • Prepare, plan for and manage public health events and mass gatherings through local, state and national disaster management groups. 
  • Contribute to disaster and emergency incident response planning for our Health Service.

To keep up-to-date with the latest public health alerts and warnings, visit:

  • Queensland Health for the latest Media updates 
  • Disasters and Emergencies alerts and warnings
  • Weather Warnings: BOM
  • Road closures and traffic conditions: QLDTraffic
  • Public transport wet weather disruptions: Translink
  • For emergency storm and flood response, call the SES on 132 500
  • If you are in a life-threatening emergency, always call Triple Zero (000) first.

If you are recovering from an event, you can find a wide range of health resources at Queensland Health - Health and wellbeing for disaster recovery.

Medical Entomology

Medical Entomology, a sub-branch of the public health unit, focuses on the study of arthropods and insects (particularly mosquitoes) that can cause disease in humans. 

Queensland is home to a variety of mosquito species, while they are mostly found in wetland environments, some live and breed in our own backyards. These little insects can be capable of transmitting viruses and infections, ranging from mild to fatal health outcomes. 

Our Unit is committed to supporting our community’s safety by helping to identify and reduce the risk posed by mosquitoes. 

Our work is achieved through:

  • Implementing early-warning’ surveillance programs to detect a mosquito invasion before an outbreak of a disease (e.g., dengue, Zika), these include:
    • The Regional Rapid Surveillance for Vector Presence Program - a voluntary partnership with councils (South East Queensland) and Queensland Health. 
    • Zika Mozzie Seeker - a voluntary citizen science program with members of our community. 
  • Providing expert advice to inform our Health Service’s strategic and operational direction.
  • Conducting risk assessments when we identify an exotic mosquito-borne diseases (e.g., chikungunya, dengue, and Zika). 
  • Supporting biosecurity at regional International First Points of Entry 
  • Supporting Biosecurity and other government agencies to develop and implement mosquito management plans
  • Identifying, analysing, and investigating medical entomology service delivery gaps and deficiencies and collaborate with research organisations where necessary.
  • Disseminate and publish findings to stakeholders for mosquito/virus surveillance and management.
  • Support lectures, workshops, university student placements or other relevant forums on these topics.

Latest news

interprofessional recognition team award 2022 PHU MSOH

The partnership that stood the test of time to win the Interprofessional recognition award

A chance meeting in March 2020 between the Metro South Public Health Unit (MSPHU) and Metro South Oral Health (MSOH) to discuss office space and the expansion of MSPHU to respond to COVID-19 led to an interprofessional collaboration that has spanned two years and contributed to the success of the COVID-19 contact tracing team in Metro South Health.

We are looking for more Winter Warriors!

Metro South Public Health Unit has extended the the Winter Respiratory Viruses Sentinel Surveillance Program until 30 September. It's free to join and easy to do – simply provide a self-collected nasal swab and deposit in a collection box at your workplace.

Resources

Last updated 7 June 2022
Last reviewed 7 June 2022