Murray Valley encephalitis virus detected in New South Wales

The MVE virus is spread to humans from infected animals by mosquitoes. Rarely, it causes severe neurologic disease with headache, seizures, and possibly loss of consciousness.

The virus cannot be transmitted between humans, and you cannot transmit the virus by touching infected animals or eating animal products.

The main hosts of the MVE virus are waterfowl such as herons and egrets. MVE detections may be related to recent rainfall and flooding. The last localized case of MVE was confirmed in New South Wales in 2011.

Dr Richard Bloom, executive director of the New South Wales Department of Health Protection, said most people infected with the virus that causes MVE have no symptoms.

“Only a small percentage of people infected with the virus experience symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea and muscle aches. Some people with severe infections die. Some people develop lifelong neurological complications,” Dr. Bloom said.

“There is no vaccination or specific treatment for MVE. The best way to avoid infection is to avoid mosquito bites, which are most active between dusk and dawn.

“By avoiding mosquito bites, you can also prevent other mosquito-borne infections such as Japanese encephalitis, Ross River fever and Balma forest virus.”

People in New South Wales are urged to take precautions against mosquito bites to protect themselves from all mosquito-borne viruses. Protect yourself and your family by:

  • Cover openings such as windows and doors with insect screens and make sure there are no gaps
  • Remove anything that can collect water outside your home where mosquitoes can breed (old tires, empty pots, etc.)
  • Improve the drainage of your property so water does not stagnate
  • Wear light, loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts, long pants, covered footwear and socks (especially at dusk and dawn)
  • Apply repellent to all areas of exposed skin using a repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil
  • Reapply the repellent regularly, especially after swimming, and always apply sunscreen first, then repellent.
  • Use insecticide sprays, vapor spray units, and mosquito coils to repel mosquitoes (only use mosquito coils outdoors).

For more information and how to protect yourself, NSW Health website. Murray Valley encephalitis virus detected in New South Wales

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