NT Health is urging Northern Territory (NT) residents and visitors to protect themselves from mosquito bites, following detection of the potentially fatal Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) and Japanese encephalitis (JE) viruses in mosquitoes.
Mosquito numbers are currently high in the Barkly region due to the recent rains, and are expected to increase in the Top End, with numbers already at high levels in areas close to swamps, creeks and wetlands.
January to June is the highest risk period for serious mosquito-borne diseases such as MVE and JE disease, with April also being a time period of holidays and outdoor activities.
MVE virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected in Tennant Creek in February, while JE virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected in the Darwin area in early March.
The Top End region recorded a fatal case of MVE in February this year. Over the past 20 years, there have been five deaths from MVE reported in the NT. It can be fatal in 30 per cent of cases.
Three cases of JE and one associated fatality have been recorded in the NT. The first case in the NT was recorded in 2021.
Symptoms of MVE and JE viruses can include headaches, fever, seizures, tremor or fits and can lead to delirium, coma, permanent brain damage or death.
To minimise the risk of mosquito-borne disease people should:
avoid outdoor exposure particularly around dusk and dawn and overnight, especially when within two kilometres of swamps, creeks, rivers and billabongsensure that children and infants are adequately protected against mosquito biteswear light-coloured clothing with long sleeves, long trousers, and ankle protection with socks, between dusk and dawn in areas where mosquitoes are likely to be activeuse a protective repellent containing 20% DEET or picaridin or extract of lemon eucalyptus (PMD) as a supplement to protective clothing, with creams providing best protectionuse mosquito coils, mosquito lanterns, and consider insecticide barrier treatments by licensed pest control companies for use around residential grounds when mosquito numbers are high.use mosquito-proof accommodation and camping facilities
Learn more about MVE and JE on the NT Health website here.