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Barmah Forest Virus – East Coast Tasmania

Please read below an important message from the Department of Health regarding the Barmah Forest infection:

Tasmanians living on, or planning to visit, the East Coast are reminded to protect themselves against mosquitoes following further cases of Barmah Forest virus.

There have now been five confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease, with a further two cases being investigated.

These cases represent the first time we have been able to confirm the virus has been contracted in Tasmania.

Public Health Services has partnered with UTAS to conduct mosquito trapping in an attempt to learn more about this outbreak.

PHS and UTAS staff will volunteer their time this weekend to set a number of traps on the East Coast.

The trapping will attempt to confirm the presence of mosquito species known to carry the virus, and also to hopefully trap a mosquito carrying the virus for further research.

Although a small number of cases have been notified in Tasmania in the past – these are the first cases where we are confident they have been acquired in Tasmania, rather than interstate. The fact that we are seeing a number of cases of this virus is significant. We’d obviously like to understand more.

In the meantime, people need to be aware of the risks relating to mosquitoes and to take measures to protect themselves.

Many people will not get any symptoms; those who do may have joint pain and swelling, tiredness, rash (usually on the trunk or limbs), headaches, muscle pain, fever and chills.

Symptoms usually start about seven to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Most people recover completely in a few weeks. It is diagnosed with a blood test. There is no specific treatment available so prevention is important.

Preventing insect bites will also protect against other mosquito-borne diseases, such as Ross River virus, and tick-borne diseases, such as Flinders Island spotted fever.

To protect against mosquitoes and ticks:

  • Avoid mosquito-infested areas, where possible.
  • Cover-up with a loose-fitting long sleeved shirt and long pants when outside.
  • ​Put mosquito repellent containing either DEET or picaridin on exposed skin.
  • Take special care during peak mosquito biting hours, especially around dawn and dusk, and when outdoors or camping.
  • ​Remove potential mosquito breeding sites from around the home and screen windows and doors.

If you think you may have symptoms of Barmah Forest virus see your GP. For further information call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/publichealth/communicable_diseases_prevention_unit/infectious_diseases/ross_river

A copy of the fact sheet can be accessed here – https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/263082/Ross_River_Fever_Barmah_Forest_Fact_Sheet.pdf

Communications, 15/03/2019