MURRAY VALLEY ENCEPHALITIS
WHAT IS MURRAY VALLEY ENCEPHALITIS ?
Murray Valley encephalitis is an infectious disease caused by a virus belonging to the flavivirus group. It is transmitted through a contaminated mosquito bite. No case of human to human transmission is known.
The symptoms of Murray Valley encephalitis include a fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. In some cases, the infection can lead to a serious disease which is characterized by confusion, sleepiness, difficulties to talk, lack of coordination and brain damages. In rare cases, this disease results in a severe chronic neurological condition, permanent invalidity or death.
WHAT IS THE RISK FOR TRAVELERS ?
All the travelers going to New Guinea, to Northwestern Australia and to Southeastern Australia are at risk for Murray Valley encephalitis. It is important to note that the virus is more common during heavy rainfalls, floods and hot weather. The persons spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in mosquito-infested areas, are exposed to an increased risk.
HOW TO PREVENT MURRAY VALLEY ENCEPHALITIS ?
There is currently no vaccine or specific medicine to prevent Murray Valley encephalitis. If you intend to travel to a region at risk, you must protect yourself efficiently against mosquito bites.
- Wear protective clothes, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats.
- Apply mosquito repellent on exposed skin. You should preferably use repellents offering long lasting protection and containing a high percentage of active ingredients, like DEET, Picaridin or IR3535. Use insect repellents with caution and always follow product instructions. Avoid contact with your eyes, with your nose and with your mouth. You can use repellent with sunscreen, just apply the sunscreen first.
- For optimal protection, use Permethrin-treated clothes and gear. You can buy pre-treated clothing, or you can treat your own items, like pants, socks, boots and tents. Handle Permethrin carefully and avoid any direct contact with your skin. Permethrin remains effective even after several washes.
- Stay in air-conditioned environments whenever possible.
- Always sleep under a mosquito net, especially if you sleep outside or if your room is exposed outdoors.
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF MOSQUITO BITE ?
If you are bitten by a mosquito, avoid scratching the bite area. Immediately apply hydrocortisone-based cream or calamine lotion to soothe the itch.
IF YOU FEEL SICK :
If you feel sick after traveling in a country at risk for Murray Valley encephalitis (especially if you have a fever), you should see a doctor immediately and inform him/her of the areas you have visited and of your activities there.
We make every effort to ensure that the information posted on our website is up to date and accurate according to the latest public health recommendations; however, it is impossible for us to make changes on a daily basis.
For the most current travel health recommendations, please call our clinic as make an appointment with one of our travel health professionals.