MVE suspected in NT death; Lockdown effects on disease transmission

The recent death of a Tiwi Islands resident due to encephalitis is initially being attributed to a mosquito-borne virus such as Murray Valley encephalitis virus or Kunjin virus. This week, Northern Territory Health alerted the Top End’s population to the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, with particular emphasis on activities near the insects’ breeding sites – ‘campers, infants and young children residing near mosquito-breeding areas … [p]eople in remote Top End communities and anyone visiting parks and recreation’. Read more 

RATES OF notifiable diseases such as influenza, pertussis and rotavirus declined between early April and late September last year in central QLD due to pandemic health measures (social distancing, enhanced hygiene), however there was ‘an increase in sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) such as newly-acquired hepatitis C, gonorrhoea and infectious syphilis’ which was echoed by similar trends for syphilis and gonorrhoea on a national level in 2020. Vector-borne disease were also reported to have increased in incidence across the central QLD region (Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus and Q fever). Read more

Advice for travellers

While the risk of contracting MVE is low, the virus can cause severe illness, even death in very rare cases. The vector mosquitoes are active at dawn and dusk, particularly in the first two hours after dark. They pass on the virus to humans after feeding on infected birds attracted to flooded wetlands. Travellers to wetland areas of Australia should take all measures to prevent bites. Apply an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus [PMD] to exposed skin when outdoors. More about MVE and Kunjin viruses.

Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.