Monday, May 20, 2024

Murray Valley encephalitis virus detected in Pilbara

Residents and travellers are being urged to protect themselves against mosquito bites, following detection of Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV) in the Pilbara region for the first time this year.

Mosquito sampling is a used as an early warning system for mosquito-borne virus activity, and this warning for the Pilbara follows recent similar alerts of MVEV activity in the Kimberley region.

WA Department of Health Managing Scientist, Dr Andrew Jardine said the recent activity is not uncommon in northern regions of WA at this time of year.

“The Pilbara community and travellers to the area can reduce their risk of MVE by protecting themselves from mosquito bites,” Dr Jardine said.

“Thankfully, we’ve not had any community members contract MVE, but it is best to remain alert.”

Initial symptoms of MVE include fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, nausea, and dizziness.

Dr Jardine urged anyone with these symptoms, particularly following a mosquito bite, to seek medical advice.

“Although the risk of being infected and becoming unwell is low, the illness caused by MVE can be severe and even fatal.”

“Young children might only display a fever in the first instance and parents should urgently see their doctor or local health service if their child is experiencing drowsiness, floppiness or general distress.”

Individuals are encouraged to help prevent mosquito bites by following these steps:

  • Avoid being outdoors at dawn and early evening when mosquitoes are most active;
  • Wear long, loose fitting, light-coloured clothing;
  • Dress babies and children in suitable clothing, including socks/shoes, and use bed/pram netting;
  • Apply an effective personal mosquito repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET), picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also known as PMD) evenly to all areas of exposed skin and always follow the label instructions;
  • Ensure insect screens are installed and in good condition on houses and caravans;
  • Use mosquito nets and mosquito-proof tents if sleeping outside;
  • Keep grass and other vegetation short to help prevent mosquitoes around your home.

For more information, including further MVE symptoms and mosquito prevention tips, visit HealthyWA.

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