18 January 2012
Warning to Take Precautions and Avoid Mosquitoes
The NSW Ministry of Health is reminding the public to protect themselves against mosquitoes after one person contracted Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE) in the New England area, and another contracted the Kunjin virus.
Both people experienced relatively mild symptoms and are now recovering from the infection.
“The two cases, which are both caused by infections carried by mosquitoes, are a timely reminder for people to take precautions against mosquito borne infection,” NSW Health Director of Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, said.
“The person who had MVE was infected from mosquitoes west of the ranges in late 2011. It’s unclear when the person with Kunjin was infected, as the person had travelled both in coastal NSW and west of the ranges before infection,” he said.
“Mosquito numbers increase in summer and with an increase in rainfall. Most people with MVE or Kunjin will not develop symptoms but the infections can have serious consequences for others.”
Symptoms of MVE include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting and muscle aches. In more severe cases encephalitis can develop and this causes neck stiffness, lethargy, drowsiness, confusion, delirium, tremors, neurological problems and coma.
Symptoms of Kunjin include mild illness with fever, enlarged lymph nodes, rash, swollen and aching joints, headache, muscle weakness and fatigue. Some also develop encephalitis.
Anyone with these symptoms of severe MVE or Kunjin infection should immediately seek medical assistance.
In NSW, Kunjin is usually found west of the Great Dividing Range, although Kunjin activity was detected in horses in coastal NSW last year. Water birds are also important hosts for the virus in Australia.
Several viruses including MVE and Kunjin and also Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses are transmitted by infected mosquitoes which breed in flooded, grassy and swamp areas and around rivers and waterways.
Simple steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes include:
“Preventing these viruses depends on avoiding mosquito bites, especially in the warmer months of the year when mosquitoes are most active,” Dr McAnulty said.
For a copy of the NSW Health fact sheet on Murray River Encephalitis (MVE) virus and Kunjin go to:
NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) advises that Murray River Encephalitis (MVE) and Kunjin virus can also affect horses. Further information on the disease in horses and how to protect horses is available at: http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/livestock/horses/health