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Toddler dies in Northern Territory from MVE disease after being bitten by mosquito


Toddler dies after being bitten by a mosquito as a tropical disease takes another life

  • A toddler has died from a mosquito-borne disease
  • Murray Valley encephalitis is on the rise in cases
  • Last February, a woman in her 70s died of the disease

A toddler has tragically died after contracting a mosquito-borne virus that has health authorities on edge.

The baby from the Big Rivers area, 200km south of Darwin, became infected with Murray Valley encephalitis after being bitten by a mosquito earlier this month, the NT Health Department said Thursday.

The horror virus, endemic to northern Australia and Papua New Guinea, can cause a rare deadly ‘brain infection’.

Three others have also died in the Top End this year from MVE, including a Darwin woman in her 70s.

The disease is a rare but potentially deadly disease with no vaccine, while the only preventative measure people can take is to avoid mosquitoes

There is no vaccine and the only preventative measure people can take is to avoid mosquitoes.

Tests at the Berrimah Veterinary Laboratory found that mosquitoes carried the virus in Tennant Creek and as far away as Alice Springs.

Nina Kurucz of NT Health’s medical entomology said the rise in cases could be due to monsoon storms bringing disease-carrying birds to the region.

“This year, for some reason, there’s more MVE virus in the environment…but mosquito numbers haven’t been higher, they’ve been low,” Ms Kurucz said. NT News.

She added waterfowl in the area, as egrets are known to carry the virus.

“People who have not been exposed or live in an area where the virus is endemic are more vulnerable, for example young children,” she said.

“There’s still a risk until all the water bodies dry up, so we’re letting people know that the virus is out there and can be deadly, and has been deadly in some cases.”

Most people infected with the disease develop no symptoms or if they do, they are only mild – with one in 800 people developing a serious infection.

But Ms Kurucz advised those in the area to cover up and warned that the mosquitoes that are spreading are more active after sunset, at night and in the early mornings.

Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE)

Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) is a rare but potentially serious infection of the brain caused by the Murray Valley encephalitis virus.

Murray Valley encephalitis can spread to humans through mosquito bites.

There is no effective treatment or vaccine for MVE.

The best prevention is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Mosquito surveillance and control activities can be put in place to reduce the risk of MVE and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Most infected people have no symptoms, while others may develop mild illness and make a full recovery.

A small proportion of infected people develop encephalitis, an inflammation (swelling) of the brain.

This can potentially lead to brain damage or death.

Most people infected with Murray Valley encephalitis virus have no or only mild symptoms. A small number (about one in 800 people) may get a serious infection.

If symptoms do appear, they usually develop seven to 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, but can take as little as five days or as long as 28 days.

Symptoms can include:


nausea and vomiting


muscle strain

People with a severe infection may develop:

severe headache

neck stiffness

sensitivity to bright light (photophobia)

fits or fits (especially in young children)



loss of consciousness or coma.

Severe infection can lead to long-term brain damage or death.

Anyone with symptoms should seek urgent medical attention.

Source: Better Health Victoria

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