4 Common Mosquito-borne Illnesses in Queensland and How to Avoid Them

October 15, 2019 5:36 pm

Summer brings warmer temperatures that are perfect for outdoor activities and picnics with the family. However, this change in climate also brings pests like mosquitoes and other troublesome insects.

Mosquitoes aren’t just a backyard nuisance; they may also be carriers of illnesses that have the potential to be life-threatening.

While mosquito bites aren’t necessarily an emergency, they can still be quite bothersome, especially for small children. Having experience in emergency care or attending a First Aid training course in Queensland can help you deal with mosquito bites and teach you more about their harmful effects and the effective treatments for them.

What are mosquito-borne diseases?

Mosquito-borne illnesses are infections caused by parasites, bacteria, and viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are infected after sucking the blood of an animal or human that has an illness. The mosquito will then infect the animals and people it bites after that.

Queensland is no stranger to mosquito-borne diseases. The most common mosquito-borne illnesses in the state are:

1. Ross River Virus

Ross River Virus (also known as epidemic polyarthritis) is a viral disease that is spread when an infected mosquito bites other people. This virus occurs widely in Queensland and throughout Australia. Around 2,000 cases are reported every year, with most of the cases occurring from February to May. Large outbreaks occur as a reflection of increased mosquito breeding during periods of high tides or heavy rainfall.

Most people infected with this virus, especially children, have no obvious symptoms. The severity of symptoms is greater with age. Acute symptoms can usually develop within 7-9 days of contracting the virus and include: fever, rash, muscle pain, joint pain, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, fatigue, and chronic joint pain.

2. Barmah Forest Virus

This viral infection is spread by mosquitoes from infected animals to people. The mosquito may have contracted the virus from infected kangaroos, wallabies, possums, or even from infected humans. Much like the Ross River virus, the Barmah Forest virus is widespread in both Queensland and the whole of Australia. There are over 400 cases of this virus reported in Queensland alone every year.

Similar to other viral infections, Barmah Forest virus infection will not develop any signs or symptoms in most infected people. Acute symptoms resemble those of the Ross River virus with a lower likelihood of arthritis.

3. Dengue Fever

This disease is transmitted by a bite from the dengue mosquito, which has previously bitten a person infected with the dengue virus. It only takes one mosquito to infect a large number of people in a short span of time. Dengue fever can be found in most tropical areas of the world, with outbreaks occurring in North Queensland.

Dengue symptoms mostly appear 1 to 3 weeks after someone is infected with the virus, and its symptoms typically include headache, fever, nausea, muscle pain, joint pain, a rash on the torso or arms, and a coppery taste in the mouth.

4. Zika Virus

This virus is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes that can also carry diseases such as yellow fever and dengue. Similar to dengue, it can be spread from person to person, as well as from a pregnant woman to her baby.

Zika Virus is mainly found in tropical areas of the world, with the number of infections increasing globally. In Queensland, it has been diagnosed in travellers returning from affected countries. Most people don’t even know they have Zika. The symptoms are mild and usually subside in less than a week. You may have a fever, joint or muscle pain, rash, or pinkeye.

The best way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses is to avoid getting bitten.

Prevention remains the best method to handle any kind of disease or ailment, including the ones caused by mosquitoes. In the case of mosquito-borne illnesses, effective measures can include wearing proper clothes, avoiding areas that are known as breeding sites, and wearing repellents to prevent getting bitten.