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Murray Valley encephalitis

2-minute read

Murray Valley encephalitis is a serious but rare illness caused by a virus you get from being bitten by a mosquito that is carrying the virus. Most reported cases of Murray Valley encephalitis have occurred in northern Australia or Papua New Guinea.

Murray Valley encephalitis is a serious but rare illness caused by a virus transmitted by a mosquito. Most reported cases of Murray Valley encephalitis have occurred in northern Australia or Papua New Guinea.

What are the symptoms of Murray Valley encephalitis?

Many people have no symptoms. Others have mild symptoms including fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.

More severe symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • nausea and vomiting
  • shaking
  • neck stiffness
  • headache
  • seizures

Infants may also become irritable or drowsy.

Murray Valley encephalitis can be fatal in a very small percentage of people.

How is Murray Valley encephalitis diagnosed?

Diagnosing the infection may involve a blood test and a lumbar puncture to test a sample of fluid from around the spinal cord.

How is Murray Valley encephalitis treated?

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Murray Valley encephalitis. Therefore, it's especially important to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

How is Murray Valley encephalitis prevented?

To lessen your chance of being bitten by mosquitoes (as well as midges), cover up as much skin as possible and stay inside in the early morning or at dusk. Screen living areas, and make sure you use an insect repellent when you are outside and there are mosquitoes around.

Information on staying safe around mosquitoes can be found on the Queensland Health website.

More information

Sources:

SA Health (Murray Valley encephalitis)

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Last reviewed: December 2020


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