26 September 2023

Mozzie virus sting prompts health alert

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The ACT Health Directorate has issued a warning to the local community to protect against mosquito bites, with the risk of contracting Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) on the rise.

The Directorate said infected mosquitoes were suspected of passing the highly dangerous JEV into pigs in farms in regional New South Wales, northern Victoria and southern Queensland, possibly causing the virus to be circulated in the mosquito population.

ACT Health said however, there were no commercial pig farms in the ACT and JEV had not been detected in the ACT at this time.

“Less than one per cent of people infected with JEV experience symptoms, which typically appear between five and 15 days after a bite from an infected mosquito and include fever, joint pain and rash,” it said.

“Rarely, JEV can cause Japanese encephalitis, a severe neurological illness with headache, convulsions and reduced consciousness.”

The Directorate said the virus was spread by mosquito bites and could affected animals including pigs and humans.

It said that as there was no specific treatment for Japanese encephalitis or other mosquito-borne viral infections, the best way to avoid infection was to avoid mosquito bites.

ACT Health said to avoid mosquito bites, cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear when outside.

It advised using an effective insect repellent, preferably containing Diethyl Toluamide (DEET), Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, on exposed skin and reapply within a few hours, or use insecticide sprays, vapour dispensing units (indoors) and mosquito coils (outdoors).

“Cover all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens; and remove any water-holding containers outside the house where mosquitoes could breed,” it said. .

Further information on vector-borne diseases can be accessed on the NSW Health website at this PS News link.

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