Mosquito borne disease risk


Visitors and Territorians alike are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites as Murray Valley Encephalitis Virus (MVE) and Kunjin Virus activity have been detected in the Top End and Barkly regions.

Detection has occurred through the routine NT Health Mosquito Disease Surveillance Program. This program is run by NT Health in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Industry and Trade.

Medical Entomologist Bill Pettit said that this time of the year was the high risk period for mosquito borne diseases such as MVE and Kunjin Virus.

“It is timely to remind Territorians and visitors to protect themselves against mosquito bites while enjoying the outdoors until the end of July,” Mr Pettit said.

“The results of recent testing indicate widespread MVE and Kunjin Virus activity throughout the Northern Territory. A severe human mosquito born virus case is currently under investigation in the Top End.”

“Although mosquito numbers are currently relatively low in Top End urban areas and Central Australia, they can still occur in relatively high numbers in rural areas, especially those close to swamps and wetlands.”

To avoid mosquito borne disease, Mr Pettit encourages people to cover up, use repellent and avoid outdoor exposure around mosquito prone areas after sundown.

“The MVE and Kunjin Viruses are transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, which mainly breeds in vegetated freshwater habitats and is active at night and in the early morning.”

MVE can be a very serious disease, in some cases causing delirium, coma, permanent brain damage or death. Symptoms can include severe headache, high fever, drowsiness, tremor and seizure.

Kunjin Virus has similar symptoms but rarely leads to encephalitis.

To minimise the risk of mosquito borne disease remember:

  • To ensure children and infants are adequately protected against mosquito bites
  • To avoid outdoor exposure around dusk, and at night, being within 2 km of swamps, creeks, rivers, billabongs and other flooded or low lying areas
  • To use mosquito coils, mosquito lanterns, and consider insecticide barrier treatments by licensed pest control companies for use around residential grounds when mosquito numbers are high
  • To use mosquito proof accommodation and camping facilities at night
  • To wear light-coloured clothing with long sleeves, long trousers, and ankle protection with socks, between dusk and dawn in areas where mosquitoes are likely to be active
  • To use a protective repellent containing 20% DEET or picaridin or extract of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) at a concentration of at least 30% as a supplement to protective clothing, with creams providing best protection

Media contact: Russel Guse 0436 933 810

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