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High risk period for mosquito virus

Monday, 17 March 2014

Residents and visitors of the Darwin, Katherine and Barkly regions are being urged to protect themselves against mosquitoes, as these areas are now in the high risk period for Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE).  

Director of Medical Entomology, Nina Kurucz explained that conditions are optimum for MVE-carrying mosquitoes to breed in water filled depressions, freshwater lagoons and wetlands.

"The Barkly region has received extensive summer rainfall of over 400mm, and mosquitoes capable of transmitting MVE and Ross River virus have increased in numbers," Ms Kurucz said.

Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries test sentinel chickens for evidence of the MVE virus as they act as an 'early warning' for possible human transmission.

"Although the sentinel chickens have not tested positive so far this year, from now until June is the high risk period," Ms Kurucz said.

"To avoid mosquito borne disease, residents are urged to use personal mosquito protection and to avoid outdoor exposure around mosquito prone areas - especially after sundown.   

"Murray Valley encephalitis is a rare disease, but can potentially be fatal. Symptoms include severe headache, high fever, drowsiness, tremor, seizures (especially in young children), and in some cases delirium, coma, permanent brain damage or even death."  

To minimise the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes people should:

·         wear protective light coloured clothing with long sleeves, long trousers, and ankle protection with socks, between dusk and dawn in areas where mosquito bites are likely;

·         avoid outdoor exposure around dusk, and at night, near rivers and areas of dense vegetation as well as other areas of high mosquito activity

·         use a protective repellent containing 20% DEET or Picaridin and other mosquito protection devices as a supplement to protective clothing when out doors at night in areas of mosquito activity

·         ensure children are adequately protected against mosquito bites

·         consider bifenthrin insecticide barrier treatments by pest control companies for use around residential grounds

·         use mosquito proof accommodation and camping facilities at night

Media Contact: Bridget Wild - 89 992 818 or 0401 116 203