Murray Valley encephalitis in Australia - Western Australia
04 Apr 2023
On 31 March media reported the death of a child due to Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE). It is believed the child may have been exposed to an infected mosquito in the West Kimberly region, Western Australia. This case is only the second MVE case reported in Western Australia since 2008, although 8 MVE cases have been reported for Australia as a whole in 2023.
The recent major flooding in West Kimberly (in January 2023) has resulted in ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes which may have led to increased risk of MVE in the area. Local public health officials are advising mosquito bite protection measures.
Murray Valley encephalitis virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause fever, headache, nausea, rash, muscle and joint pains, rash and fatigue. More seriously, encephalitis (brain inflammation) occurs in some cases. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for MVE.
Advice for Travellers
The risk for most travellers to area with an outbreak of MVE is small. This risk is greater if you will be:
- participating in outdoor activities in risk areas such as swamps, wetlands and parks, especially during the evening or at night
- travelling to a risk area for a prolonged period of time
The best way to protect yourself against MVE is by avoiding mosquito bites, especially in the evening when this mosquito is most active.
Before you travel, consider how you will protect yourself from mosquito bites during your trip. This involves:
- using good quality insect repellents
- wearing the right clothing to protect your skin from bites
- using a mosquito net
- reducing the number of mosquitos in and around your accommodation
You should also be aware of how to treat bites if they occur.