Victoria has recorded its first human case and death from Murray Valley encephalitis virus since 1974.
The woman in her 60s, from the shire of Buloke, passed away earlier this month. She was initially thought to have contracted Japanese encephalitis virus; however, further testing and analysis confirmed she passed away from Murray Valley encephalitis.
“People should continue to be vigilant and take steps to avoid mosquito bites – especially in northern Victoria, where Murray Valley encephalitis virus and other mosquito-borne diseases are known to be circulating,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said.
“Simple precautions include wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing, using insect repellents, removing stagnant water around homes or properties, and avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are observed, especially at dusk and dawn.”
Murray Valley encephalitis virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and West Nile (Kunjin) virus have been detected in mosquitoes in several LGAs in northern Victoria this mosquito season. Victoria has recorded one confirmed case of Japanese encephalitis this mosquito season.
Most people infected with Murray Valley encephalitis virus do not have symptoms. When they occur, symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches, and in serious cases, people can develop meningitis or encephalitis.
“Anyone with these symptoms should seek urgent medical care. Serious illness can result in death or long-term neurological complications,” Professor Sutton added.
While a vaccine is available against Japanese encephalitis, there is no vaccine against Murray Valley encephalitis. People eligible for the Japanese encephalitis vaccine are urged to speak to their GP, local public health unit, local council or community pharmacist for more information.
The Department of Health provides funding and direction to councils in areas at high-risk for mosquito-borne diseases to undertake both mosquito surveillance and mosquito control activities. Local councils in northern Victoria are undertaking vector control activities to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne disease.
Reviewed 17 February 2023