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Kunjin Virus and Murray Valley Encephalitis Virus in Australia (Northern Territory)

03 Apr 2019

The Australian Department of Health is advising Northern Territory residents and visitors to avoid mosquito bites as Kunjin virus has been detected in the Darwin and East Arnhem areas. Kunjin virus transmission is most intense from February to the end of July.

Mosquito numbers, which are already high, are expected to increase following recent rain. Numbers will especially high within a few kilometres of mosquito breeding sites including flood pools, seasonal lagoons and wetlands.

Kunjin virus is not the only mosquito-borne virus to present a risk in the Northern territory: Murray Valley encephalitis virus has been known to occur at the same time of year.

Advice for Travellers

Kunjin virus and Murray Valley encephalitis virus can cause fever, headache, nausea, rash, muscle and joint pains, rash and fatigue. More seriously, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) occurs in some cases. These viruses are uncommon in travellers but:

  • Travellers should be aware of the presence of Kunjin virus and Murray Valley encephalitis virus at their travel destination and be advised to practice good insect bite avoidance at all times.
  • Warning notices in the media, during outbreaks and in high-risk areas, are given in Australia and should be heeded by travellers.

No vaccine is available and there is no specific treatment.