'Deadly' disease warning
Friday, 25th February, 2011
Locals travelling to southern parts of NSW and into Victoria are being warned to take precautions following the detection of a fatal mosquito borne disease.
The disease Murray Valley Encephalitis, or MVE, has been detected in sentinel chickens in the Victorian towns of Mildura, Robinvale, Kerang and Barmah, and also in Tooleybuc in NSW, near Swan Hill.
Sentinel chicken flocks act as a warning system for human infection by being regularly monitored for any viruses that mosquitoes might be transmitting.
Dr Michael Staff, Acting Director of NSW Health Protection, said so far MVE has not been detected in humans but urged people to cover up and avoid mosquito bites.
"Recent flooding and warm weather increase exposure to mosquito borne viruses such as Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus which are common in NSW and can cause illness with symptoms including tiredness, rash fever and sore swollen joints," Dr Staff said.
"While Murray Valley Encephalitis or MVE is rare, and most people will not develop symptoms, it is still a serious mosquito-borne disease that can lead to permanent brain damage and may be fatal in severe cases."
A local health network spokesperson reiterated that people travelling should take precautions.
These include covering up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear when outside.
Also, use an effective repellent on all exposed skin and re-apply within a few hours, as protection wears off from perspiration, particularly on hot nights. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin.
Cover all windows, doors, chimneys, vents and other entrances with insect screens.
In mild cases, symptoms of MVE include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting and muscle aches. In more severe cases symptoms include neck stiffness, lethargy, delirium, tremors and, in extreme cases, coma.
People with these symptoms should immediately seek medical assistance.
For a range of health information go online to www.health.nsw.gov.au.