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Published Date: 2017-03-22 23:37:14
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia: (WA), alert
Archive Number: 20170322.4919342
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Tue 21 Mar 2017
Source: ABC News [edited]

The family of a WA police officer left devastated by the mosquito-borne [Murray Valley encephalitis] virus has urged people to be careful after it was detected again in northern WA.

Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) can cause milder symptoms such as swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, headaches, and fatigue but can also leave people with permanent impaired neurological function, such as paralysis and loss of verbal function.

MVE has been detected for the 1st time this year [2017] in "sentinel" chicken flocks in the east Kimberley region, while there have been probable detections of both MVE and the Kunjin virus -- which can also cause severe long-term effects -- in the Pilbara region.

A former WA police officer was left paralysed and unable to speak after he contracted the virus [in 2011] while working in the remote community of Balgo, near the Northern Territory border.

His mother said the young man's contracting of the virus had devastated the whole family. "You look at him, and you think all that he should be doing now, and he can't." She urged people to take precautions.

"The year that he got it, 4 people actually died from it. We're very lucky that our young man pulled through," she said.

"It's something that we knew nothing about, never heard of it, and you've just got to be very unlucky. Make sure in the early mornings and evenings to wear long sleeves and have protection, because we all get bitten by a mosquito sometimes; sometimes you can be unlucky."

No human cases have been recorded in WA since 2011, according to the WA Health Department.

The department is warning people in WA's north to be cautious for the next couple of weeks, particularly when near water and during water-based activities.

People are also being asked to wear long-sleeved protective clothing and to use insect repellent, particularly around dawn and early evening.

"Initial symptoms of MVE include fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, nausea, and dizziness," a department statement said. "People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical advice quickly.

"In severe cases, people may experience fits, lapse into a coma, and may be left with permanent brain damage or die. In young children, fever might be the only early sign, so parents should see their doctor if concerned, particularly if their child experiences drowsiness, floppiness, irritability, poor feeding, or general distress."

There are no specific cures or vaccines for any of these viruses.

There have been heavy rains in the Kimberley in recent weeks. There has also been a spike in Ross River virus in the region, according to the department.

[Byline: Rebecca Trigger]

Communicated by:

[The case mentioned above occurred in 2011 (see ProMED-mail Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (08): (WA) Archive Number: 20110528.1640).

Murray Valley encephalitis virus occurs across Australia, but human cases are sporadic to rare, but can be severe. The unusually wet weather in Western Australia this year (2017) has created extensive breeding sites for vector mosquitoes. The use of sentinel chickens mentioned above is a standard method to provide an early warning system for transmission of several arthropod-borne viruses, including Murray Valley encephalitis virus. MVE-positive chickens can lead to efforts for vector control and to warn the public about the risk of infection and measures to avoid mosquito bites. - Mod.TY

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/promed/p/289.]

See Also

Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia: (NT) 20160530.4254686
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (08): (WA) 20110528.1640
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (07): Canada ex Australia (NT) 20110526.1610
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (06): (SA) 20110503.1370
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (05): (SA) 20110331.0997
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (04): (SA) 20110330.0989
Murray Valley encephalitis/Ross River - Australia: (VI) 20110316.0841
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (03): warning 20110313.0804
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (02): (VI) 20110312.0792

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