Warning to travellers and residents in the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley after the detection of the mosquito-borne Murray Valley encephalitis virus

Published on Friday, 14 February 2020 at 12:00:00 AM

As of Tuesday 3 March 2020, two chickens in the Shire's sentinel chicken flock in Fitzroy Crossing have also had a positive detection of Murray Valley encephalitis. Please follow the steps below to minimise exposure to mosquitoes.

Residents and visitors in the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley are being encouraged to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites following the detection of Murray Valley encephalitis virus in the region.

While, no human cases of Murray Valley encephalitis virus infection have been reported so far this year, the virus was detected in the Shire’s sentinel chicken flock at Derby, which is used as an early warning system for virus activity.

“Although the risk of being infected and becoming unwell is low, the illness caused by this virus can be serious,” said Wayne Neate, Director of Technical and Development Services.

“These results from the sentinel flock serve as an early warning system for mosquito-borne diseases. It’s important that people continue to avoid being bitten if they notice mosquitoes about,” he added.

Murray Valley encephalitis symptoms include fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, nausea and dizziness. 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.

The virus is spread by the bite of the common banded mosquito that breeds in fresh water wetlands, creeks, irrigation areas and wastewater systems.

Residents are advised to minimise exposure to mosquitoes by taking a few simple steps when camping, fishing or undertaking other outdoor activities by:

  • avoiding outdoor exposure around dawn and early evening;
  • wearing protective (long, loose-fitting, light-coloured) clothing when outdoors;
  • applying a personal repellent containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin to exposed skin or clothing. The most effective and long-lasting formulations are lotions or gels. Natural or organic repellents are generally not as effective as DEET or picaridin or need to be reapplied more frequently;
  • using mosquito coils and mosquito lanterns and applying barrier sprays containing bifenthrin in patio and outdoor areas around houses;
  • ensuring insect screens are installed and in good condition on houses and caravans;
  • using mosquito nets and mosquito-proof tents when camping; and
  • ensuring infants and children are adequately protected against mosquito bites, preferably with suitable clothing, bed nets or other forms of insect screening.

Residents are encouraged to lodge any mosquito complaints by visiting the Shire’s website at sdwk.wa.gov.au and lodging an enquiry, or by phoning 08 9191 0999.

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