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South Australian mosquitoes have Murray Valley encephalitis
For the first time ever, the Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV) has been detected in SA mosquitoes.
Monitoring traps collected last week in Berri Barmera, Mid Murray, Renmark Paringa, Loxton Waikerie and Murray Bridge councils revealed the presence of MVEV in mosquitoes.
Although no SA cases have been reported in humans, the findings confirm that local mosquitoes carry the virus and are a real risk for humans.
The last human case of MVEV reported in SA was in 2011.
The recent flooding event that has affected many parts of the state has increased the amount of stagnant water, which is ideal for mosquito breeding sites.
There are also currently more nomadic water birds in the state than usual, and these birds are likely suspects for carrying the virus.
There is no vaccination and no cure for MEV.
Many people who contract MVEV have minor symptoms, but some people can develop meningitis or encephalitis.
In some cases, the disease is fatal.
Five times more mozzies are carrying nasty diseases
A combination of floods and heat has resulted in record numbers of mosquitoes across South Australia.
SA Health is asking South Australians to fight the bite, as a combination of floods and heat has resulted in record numbers of mozzies across SA.
Monitoring traps have already detected more than five times the usual amount of mosquitoes carrying the dangerous Ross River virus and the Barmah Forest virus.
Although a vaccination is available for Japanese encephalitis virus in the flood-affected areas along the River Murray, the other infections have no other vaccination or cure.
Chief public health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier offered advice about the current mosquito situation.
“The best protection from these serious and in some cases life-threatening mosquito-borne diseases is to not get bitten in the first place,” she said.
“Remain vigilant, wear long-sleeved and light-coloured clothes and apply an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus if you are outside.”
Japanese encephalitis was unknown in South Australia until March last year, when the virus was detected in the Murray Bridge and Coorong districts.
More information: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/fightthebite.
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