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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Misquito Borne Murray Valley Encephalitis Fatality, Australia

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Mon 23 Mar 2009
Source: ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) [edited]
Click on title above to see article;

Mosquito bite claims life
The family of a [Northern] Territory man who died of Murray Valley
encephalitis say they are concerned the public has not been properly
warned about the dangers of the mosquito-borne disease. The
58-year-old man died of brain failure, after contracting the disease
in Darwin's rural area, where he worked and lived. A member of his
family says he was admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital 3 weeks ago. He
died on Friday [20 Mar 2009]. His funeral will be held tomorrow [24
Mar 2009] -- the same day he was due to celebrate his 59th birthday.

The Health Department did not release a warning about the dangers of
Murray Valley encephalitis until the day of the victim's death, and
did not announce that he had died until today [23 Mar 2009]. The
family does not want anyone else to go through the grief they have

The Authorities say the chance of contracting Murray Valley
encephalitis is small, but they are calling on people to avoid being
bitten by mosquitoes.

Dr Jim Burrow, a neurologist at Royal Darwin Hospital, said it was
the 1st such death within the Darwin region in the past 10 years.
There is no specific treatment for the virus, which can be lethal in
some people, he said. "But even if you do survive, there's a large
number of people who have a major disability afterwards. So the only
thing that we can do is to avoid getting bitten by the mosquitoes.
"But having said that, we shouldn't panic because it is a rare
condition." He said in the last 30 years there have only been 20
people in the Territory who have contracted the disease. "And of
people who we believe are infected by the virus ... only about one in
500 or one in 1000 will actually develop the disease."

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Susan Baekeland

Date: Mon 23 Mar 2009
Source: ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) [edited]

No way to control mosquitoes in Darwin's rural areas: expert
A mosquito expert from Darwin's Centre for Disease Control says it is
impossible to control mosquitoes carrying potentially deadly viruses
in Darwin's rural areas. A man has died from Murray Valley
encephalitis after being bitten by a mosquito near his home in the
Darwin River area. The Territory's senior medical entomologist, Peter
Whelan, says mosquitoes are controlled in Darwin but not in the rural

"We can't spray -- the rural area is huge," he said. "We've got
swamps all over the Top End of the Northern Territory right down to
Katherine and that "There's no way that we can spray all these
mosquitoes' breeding areas."

Communicated by:
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Susan Baekeland

[According to the Australian Government Department of Health and
Ageing Fact Sheet
Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV) is endemic in northern
Australia (Western Australia and the top end of the Northern
Territories). In nature MVEV is amplified in bird-mosquito-bird
cycles and humans become infected if bitten by infected mosquitoes.
MVEV activity increases after heavy rainfall and flooding. In
northern Australia sporadic cases or small outbreaks of MVE occur
every few years, usually during the wet season.

There have been 7 major outbreaks of MVE in Australia since 1917. The
last was in 1974 when 58 cases were reported from all mainland states.
Since 1974 nearly all cases of MVE have occurred in the north of
Western Australia and the Northern Territory, with occasional cases in
Queensland, central Australia, and central regions of Western
Australia. Serological studies show that only 1 in 800-1000 people
infected developed clinical disease. Of those that did, 25 percent
have died and a further 25-50 percent have been left with permanent
neurological damage.

MVEV is thought to move from endemic areas in northern Australia to
epidemic areas by the movement of infected native birds or infected
wind-blown mosquitoes. However, there is also evidence that the virus
is able to survive in these new areas for at least one or 2 seasons,
possibly within mosquito eggs or by other unidentified mechanisms.

MVEV activity occurs only occasionally in south-eastern Australia,
usually after heavy rains and flooding in northern and central
Australia, and it is likely that these epidemics have also resulted
from reintroduction of the virus.

The primary hosts of MVEV are water birds. Ardeiformes (herons),
particularly the Rufous Night-heron, and the Pelicaniformes
(cormorants/darters) are the most commonly infected. The primary
mosquito vector during epidemics is _Culex annulirostris_. Other
mosquitoes such as _Cx. australicus_ and some _Ochlerotatus_ species
may be involved in other aspects of MVEV ecology.

The city of Darwin in the Northern Territory can be located on the
HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Australia at
. - Mod.CP]

[see also:
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (03): (WA), background 20090316.1066
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (02): (WA) 20090314.1055
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia: (WA), alert 20090306.0936
Murray Valley enceph. virus - Australia (02): (VIC), alert 20080329.1173
Murray Valley enceph. virus - Australia: (NSW) 20080227.0794
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (NT): alert 20040421.1109
Murray Valley enceph. - Australia (Queensland): alert 20020313.3738
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (NT): Confirmed 20010308.0481
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (South) 20000427.0635
Murray Valley encephalitis - Australia (W.A.) 19980419.0726]
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