The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) on Wednesday confirmed that a Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus infection has been identified in the Riverina, an agricultural region of the state’s southwest.
The NSW Ministry of Health (NSW Health) said in a statement that this is the first confirmed transmission of the virus in the state since 2011.
According to the statement, a man in his 60s was potentially exposed to infected mosquitoes in the Temora Shire, Edward River Shire or Murrumbidgee Council areas. All three are areas of MVE concern.
After getting infected in January, the man has been admitted to hospital and continues to receive treatment.
Keira Glasgow, director of NSW Health’s One Health branch, said that the case follows recent MVE detections in mosquitoes and sentinel chickens in parts of western and southern NSW.
Noting that there is no vaccination or specific treatment for the disease, Glasgow urged local communities to protect themselves against mosquito bites.
“The best way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, which are most active between dusk and dawn. Avoiding mosquito bites will also protect against other mosquito-borne infections including Japanese encephalitis, Kunjin and Barmah Forest viruses,” said Glasgow.
According to the health authority, MVE is a rare disease caused by the Murray Valley encephalitis virus, which is spread to humans by infected mosquitoes.
The danger signs of MVE include symptoms such as severe headache, neck stiffness and sensitivity to bright lights. Some may have lifelong neurological complications or even death.
Summer is normally considered the mosquito season, with warnings over MVE issued in several states.
On Tuesday, the health department in Western Australia warned Kimberley residents and travelers of mosquito bites, as the MVE virus was found in sentinel chicken flocks in the east Kimberley region during the wet season.
Earlier, the state government of Victoria updated its health alert on Japanese encephalitis and Murray Valley encephalitis.
A case of MVE virus infection has been identified in a woman from Buloke Shire, who died in early February. This is the first case of MVE virus infection in Victoria since 1974. ■