Surge of mosquito borne disease in South Australia following wet weather

Rising water in the Murray River has caused a surge in mosquito-borne infections in South Australia. The water is rising in the Murray in SA as floodwaters move downstream from the eastern states.

The SA Health chief public health officer Dr Stephen Christley is warning the population regarding rising mosquito borne viral infections. He said that the wet summer was one of the main reasons for these numbers adding, “We’re seeing cases across South Australia because I think the climatic conditions have been wet across most of SA. You could look at the rainfall for the past two to three months and match that to the spread - Adelaide is there as well.”

Dr Christley however assured that none of the viral infections are deadly. “Some of the other viruses that you see in other countries can be much more nastier than these viruses.”

There have been 351 cases of Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus across SA this year so far, compared to only 16 cases at the same time last year Dr. Christley said. “While most people will recover completely in a few weeks, some can have quite severe symptoms for many months. Anyone suffering from symptoms should contact their doctor for advice,” he added.

Dengue fever, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus all may lead to joint pain. Other symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, rash, fatigue, aching tendons, swollen lymph nodes and headaches. SA Health has not yet confirmed if either virus has led to recent hospital admissions.

Dr. Christley laid out some tips to protect oneself from mosquito borne ailments. “Make sure you use an insect repellent containing either DEET or Picaridin, as these repellents are known to work most effectively… Because mosquitoes can bite through tight-fitting clothing, it’s also useful to protect against mosquito bites by covering up and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing… People can also reduce the number of potential mosquito breeding sites around their home by emptying or discarding containers that can hold water such as pot plant drip trays, bottles, cans and tyres,” he said.

Dr Grant Baker, from the Riverland Division of General Practice, said it was a cause for great concern. “They need water and obviously up here in the Riverland we’ve got lots of water at the moment,” he said. He also said that although mosquitoes did not travel far, the virus could be carried further by birds and animals such as marsupials.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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