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Mosquito virus warning

Friday, 30th December, 2011

People are being advised to protect themselves against mosquitoes following an outbreak of Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE).

The virus has been detected in chickens near Brewarrina and Nyngan and is often transferred to birds and sometimes to humans.

NSW Health Director of Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, said that the virus was rare in NSW.

Mr McAnulty said residents near wetlands such as the Murray River should take extra precautions against the insect bites as there is no treatment for the virus.

“While MVE is relatively rare, and most people will not develop symptoms, it is a serious mosquito-borne disease,” he said.

In mild cases, symptoms include fever, headache, nausea and vomiting and muscle aches. In more severe cases symptoms can include neck stiffness, lethargy, drowsiness, confusion, delirium, tremors, neurological problems and coma in severe cases. 

Mr McAnulty said that in young children, fever might be the only early sign, so parents should see their doctor if concerned, and particularly if their child has convulsions, drowsiness, floppiness, irritability, poor feeding or general distress.

To avoid mosquito bites people should cover up as much as possible when outside, use repellent on exposed skin which preferably contains Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin and cover windows, doors and vents with mosquito screens.

Mosquitoes also carry other diseases including the Ross River, Barmah Forest and Kunjin viruses. 

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