DANGERS OF MOSQUITOES
Mosquitoes have the unlikely but true reputation of being the deadliest animal on the planet.
Globally each year over one million people are killed by mosquito borne diseases.
Luckily, the most common mosquito borne diseases that we face in Australia are usually not fatal but can cause the victim to be very unwell as a result.
The most common mosquito borne diseases in Queensland at present time are Ross River Virus, Barmah Forest Virus and Dengue Fever. However there are others that make an appearance from time to time. Below is a list and information of mosquito borne diseases that the Department of Queensland Health have identified as be present in Australia
Ross River Virus Infection
Occurring widely in Australia, the Ross River virus is spread from animals to humans by several different types of mosquitoes. Although many people infected with this virus have no, or only slight, symptoms, other people may have a fever, joint pain and swelling and a rash. There is no specific treatment but medicines may be taken to help relieve the symptoms.
Barmah Forest Virus Infection
The Barmah Forest virus is also widespread in Australia and causes a similar illness to Ross River virus infection but the symptoms usually last for a shorter length of time. The virus is spread from animals to humans by mosquitoes. Again, there is no specific treatment for this infection, but medicines may be taken to help manage the symptoms.
The mosquito responsible for transmitting the dengue virus is found in most tropical areas of the world, including north Queensland, Australia. The mosquitoes breed in containers that hold water and bite during the day, not mainly at dusk or evening like other types of mosquito. People infected with the virus may have no symptoms, but others may experience high fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain, rash and extreme fatigue. In rare cases, dengue fever can be severe and even fatal. It is important to seek immediate medical advice if you suspect you have dengue fever.
Murray Valley Encephalitis
Murray Valley encephalitis is a very rare disease involving swelling of the brain tissue. The disease is caused by infection with a virus that is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The mosquito responsible is found throughout Australia and breeds in surface pools of water. Water birds, such as herons, are a natural reservoir of the virus. Most people infected with the Murray Valley encephalitis virus do not develop symptoms, but others may have high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, irritability, seizures (or fits), and drowsiness. Immediate medical advice should be sought if you have these symptoms.
Japanese encephalitis is an infection of the brain caused by a virus that is spread by infected mosquitoes. The mosquitoes become infected after biting pigs infected with the virus. Japanese encephalitis occurs in parts of Asia and Papua New Guinea. There have also been cases in north Queensland. Most infected people have no symptoms, but a small proportion may have severe symptoms, including headaches, high fever, convulsions and coma. There is no treatment, but a vaccine is available to protect against the infection in people travelling to, or resident in, areas where the virus is found.
1. Queensland Health. Topic: Ross River virus [website]. Updated May 2010. http://access.health.qld.gov.au/hid/InfectionsandParasites/ViralInfections/rossRiverVirus_fs.asp (accessed Aug 2010).
3. Queensland Health. Topic: Barmah Forest virus [website]. Updated May 2010. http://access.health.qld.gov.au/hid/InfectionsandParasites/ViralInfections/barmahForestVirus_fs.asp (accessed Aug 2010).
4. Queensland Health. Mosquito-borne diseases. Updated Nov 2007. http://www.health.qld.gov.au/goodhealthintnq/topics/mosquito.asp (accessed Aug 2010).
5. Queensland Health. Topic: Murray Valley encephalitis [website]. Updated Jun 2010. http://access.health.qld.gov.au/hid/InfectionsandParasites/ViralInfections/murrayValleyEncephalitis_fs.asp (accessed Aug 2010).
6. Queensland Health. Topic: Dengue [website]. Updated Mar 2009. http://access.health.qld.gov.au/hid/InfectionsandParasites/ViralInfections/dengue_fs.asp (accessed Aug 2010).
7. Queensland Health. Japanese encephalitis [website]. Updated Apr 2010. http://access.health.qld.gov.au/hid/InfectionsandParasites/ViralInfections/japaneseEncephalitis_fs.asp (accessed Aug 2010).