26 September 2023

Mozzie stings risk up as floodwaters ease

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Queensland Health has issued an information page explaining what Japanese encephalitis (JE) is and why it poses a threat to people in the community.

In a statement, Queensland Health said JE was spread by infected Culex mosquitos and transmitted to people through the bite of a mosquito that had previously bitten an infected animal – usually water birds and sometimes pigs.

The Department said that given the recent flooding and slow receding of some floodwaters there would likely be an increase in the numbers of mosquitos in parts of Queensland which could raise the risk of mosquito bites and JE transmission.

“Fortunately, most human infections of JE cause no symptoms or mild symptoms such as headache or fever,” the Department said.

“Rarely, it can cause serious illness and even death.”

It said the virus could not be spread directly from person to person or from animal to person, other than via a mosquito.

“JE is not a food safety concern and commercially produced meat and pork products are safe to consume,” it said.

The Department said symptoms typically took five to 15 days to develop after the mosquito bite and about 99 per cent of JE cases didn’t show and symptoms from being bitten.

“Some people who are infected may experience mild symptoms, including a fever and headache,” it said.

“The few others who experience severe infection can experience symptoms including neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, coma, convulsions, paralysis, and rarely, permanent neurological complications, or death.”

Queensland Health said while the first documented case of JE was in Japan in 1871, Queensland’s first human case had only been detected recently.

It said preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites included regularly applying insect repellent which contained diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin, wearing loose, light-coloured clothing that covered all limbs, and using other insecticide-based mosquito deterrents outside, such as a mosquito coil.

Further information about JE and other mosquito-borne viruses can be accessed at this PS News link.

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