Murray River encephalitis, a deadly mosquito disease, is on the rise in Australia
The deadly mosquito-borne disease Murray River encephalitis, which kills about one in five people who catch it, is on the rise across Australia.
Health agencies in states from Queensland to Western Australia have recorded a worrying increase in cases of rare but dangerous diseases that can kill or cause permanent neurological damage such as paralysis and brain damage.
NSW Health has recorded six Murray River cases this year, compared to zero cases in 2022, just one case in 2021 and zero cases in 2020 and 2019.
Queensland Health has recorded two cases this year, compared to none in the previous four years to 2019.
South Australia also recorded one case of the illness, characterized by fever, headache, nausea and vomiting – the first in the state in the past five years.
The deadly mosquito-borne disease Murray River encephalitis, which kills about one in five people who catch it, is on the rise across Australia. A mosquito biting a person is photographed
In Western Australia, two people have died from the disease this year, including a child who died after being bitten in the West Kimberley region in March.
In February, Victoria recorded its first case and death from Murray River encephalitis since 1974 after a woman in her 60s died following a bite.
There is no treatment for Murray River encephalitis and SA Health recommends that the best defense is to avoid being bitten in the first place.
“People should use mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil that have been approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority,” the agency said.
Floods, such as the Murray River flood in South Africa between November 2022 and February 2023 or the Kimberley flood in WA over the New Year period, can lead to increased mosquito breeding.
And although a spell of hot, dry weather from El Nino could reduce mosquito numbers in inland Australia, Professor Craig Williams of the University of South Australia said major population centers would likely remain vulnerable.
Murray River encephalitis can kill or cause permanent neurological damage such as paralysis and brain damage. Encephalitis cells are shown
“Cities are by the sea, so you will have coastal mosquitoes that will continue to breed and will not always be driven by rainfall, but their breeding sites may come from tidal action,” he said. he declares.
“There are also urban mosquitoes that are in built-up areas of the city and will continue to do well.”
Cases of other mosquito-borne diseases, such as Ross River and dengue fever, vary from state to state, but tend to show stable or declining numbers.