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Pilbara residents urged to protect themselves against mosquito-borne virus

Published on Tuesday, 21 May 2024 at 10:32:45 AM

Press release provided by the Department of Health Western Australia  |  17 May 2024

WA Health is urging residents in northern regions of Western Australia to protect themselves against mosquito bites after two further cases of Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE), were identified in the Gascoyne and Pilbara regions.

Managing Scientist, Dr Andrew Jardine, said this warning comes after an earlier case of MVE in the Pilbara region and is a reminder to residents in northern WA to stay alert.

“The Department of Health has well established mosquito-borne disease surveillance methods in Western Australia and there has been detections of virus activity in the Pilbara, Gascoyne and Kimberley regions,” Dr Jardine said. 

“Community members in these northern regions of WA should remain alert and aware of the dangers of mosquito-borne disease."

Initial symptoms of MVE include fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, nausea, and dizziness, which may progress to neurological symptoms including confusion, weakness, vision or speech problems or seizures.

Dr. Jardine urged parents to be on the lookout for symptoms in children, which may vary from symptoms in adults.

“Young children might only display a fever in the first instance and parents should urgently see their doctor or local health service if their child is experiencing drowsiness, floppiness or general distress,” he said. 

Protecting against mosquito bites is the most effective way to protect against MVE and other mosquito-borne viruses.

People can help prevent mosquito bites by following these steps: 

  • Avoid being outdoors at dawn and early evening when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long, loose fitting, light-coloured clothing.
  • Dress babies and children in suitable clothing, including socks/shoes, and use bed/pram netting.
  • Apply an effective personal mosquito repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET), picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also known as PMD) evenly to all areas of exposed skin and always follow the label instructions.
  • Ensure insect screens are installed and in good condition on houses and caravans.
  • Use mosquito nets and mosquito-proof tents if sleeping outside.
  • Empty or remove water holding containers around the home.
  • Keep grass and other vegetation short to help prevent mosquitoes around your home.

For more information, including further MVE symptoms and mosquito bite prevention tips, visit HealthyWA.

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