Central Highlanders are reminded to take precautions and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes after routine surveillance conducted by Queensland Health found some mosquitoes in Central Queensland to be carrying the mosquito-borne disease Kunjin virus.
Queensland Health conducts regular surveillance to detect mosquitoes carrying mosquito-borne diseases, as early detection prevents them from spreading.
While there is no reason to be alarmed, people should be aware and take the usual precautions against mosquito-borne diseases prevalent in Queensland and avoid being bitten.
- Cover-up with loose-fitting long sleeved shirt and long pants when outside.
- Apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin and apply residual repellents around home and campsites.
- Take extra care and stay indoors during peak mosquito biting hours around dawn and dusk.
- Remove potential mosquito breeding sites from around the home and screen windows and doors.
- When camping, sleep in a mosquito-proof tent or under a mosquito net.
The virus is known to occur in mainland Australia and there hasn’t been a recorded case of Kunjin virus in the region in five years. Like other mosquito-borne illnesses it’s spread through the bite of an infected mosquito and there is no special treatment for patients.
Kunjin can cause physical illness in humans and horses.
While the vast majority of infections in humans do not show symptoms, a small number of people develop mild illness with fever, enlarged lymph nodes, rash, swollen and aching joints, headaches, muscle weakness and fatigue. In rare cases, Kunjin virus can cause encephalitis, a severe brain infection and patients may require hospitalisation.
Most horses infected with the virus also show no symptoms, but can develop abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Clinical signs are changes in behaviour, facial paralysis, difficulty swallowing, unsteadiness, blindness and inability to rise.
Horses can be protected against mosquito bites with repellent, rugs and by being stabled at dawn and dusk.
For further information on mosquito-borne diseases in horses, please visit the Biosecurity Queensland website.