Nursing Review Issue 2 March-April 2022 - Page 8

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New virus threat

Warning over dangerous mosquito virus .
By NCA NewsWire

Residents in NSW , Victoria and Queensland are being warned to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the detection of a virus that can turn into a potentially life-threatening condition .

Traces of the mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis ( JE ) virus were found in samples from commercial pig farms at five locations in southern and western NSW , indicating the disease is likely circulating in the mosquito population , a NSW Health spokesman said .
Additional traces were also found in the northern Victorian town of Echuca and in southern Queensland .
The JE virus is spread through mosquito bites and can affect humans and animals and develop into encephalitis , which can be “ potentially life-threatening ”, Victorian health authorities said .
“ Less than one per cent of people infected with JE experience symptoms , which typically include fever , joint pain , and rash ,” NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said .
“ Occasionally , JE can cause severe a neurological illness with headache , convulsions and reduced consciousness .”
Victoria ’ s chief health officer Brett Sutton said there were no confirmed human cases of the JE virus strain in the state .
Professor Sutton said anyone who develops a sudden onset of fever , headache and vomiting should see their doctor immediately .
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“ People with these symptoms can deteriorate over just a few short days , including suffering a loss of coordination , disorientation , generalised weakness and in some cases issues with movement which can last for years ,” he said .
The virus can ’ t be passed between humans and the simplest step to take is to avoid being bitten , he added .
“ We can all protect ourselves by avoiding mosquito bites , including covering up , wearing loose fitting clothing and using mosquito repellents ,” Professor Sutton said .
People with increased exposure to mosquitoes may be at a higher risk of infection , particularly those in regional areas and who work with or are in contact with pigs , and people camping , working or spending time outdoors in these regions .
Children aged under five and older people who are infected with JE are at a higher risk of developing more severe illnesses , such as encephalitis .
Simple actions to avoid mosquito bites include :
• Cover up as much as possible with light-coloured , loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear when outside
• Use an effective insect repellent on exposed skin and reapply within a few hours . The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide ( DEET ), Picaridin , or oil of lemon eucalyptus
• Use insecticide sprays , vapour dispensing units ( indoors ) and mosquito coils ( outdoors ) to clear rooms or repel mosquitoes from an area
• Cover all windows , doors , vents and other entrances with insect screens
“ JE can cause severe a neurological illness with headache , convulsions and reduced consciousness .
• Remove any water-holding containers outside the house where mosquitoes can breed .
FOURTH CASE DETECTED IN NSW NSW has recorded its fourth case of Japanese encephalitis as the disease spreads across the state .
The mosquito-borne virus had never been detected in the state before this year .
The latest person to be infected was a woman in her 60s from the Griffith area , acting chief health officer Marianne Gale told a parliamentary hearing .
A man in his 70s who was also from the Griffith area has died from the disease .
“ It ‘ s concerning and there ’ s a lot of work being done ,” Dr Gale said .
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the spread of the disease — which is usually found in southeast Asia — so far south was a clear example of the impact of climate change .
“ It ’ s quite concerning that we ’ ve suddenly got it moving so far south , and it goes to earlier commentary about , is climate change a matter for health ? Well , of course it is ,” he said .
There have been 16 human cases in total , including seven in Victoria and one in Queensland .
A Victorian man died with the disease on February 28 .
Several people are undergoing testing in NSW and more cases could emerge . ■