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Mosquito-borne Diseases

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Mosquito-borne Diseases








Mosquito-borne Diseases


Mosquito-borne diseases spread through mosquito bites. Mosquito-borne diseases involve the transmission of viruses and parasites from animal-to-animal, animal-to-person, or person-to-person. It is important to note that not all mosquitoes carry the disease (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012). Locke (December 2008) notes that human infection with a mosquito-borne virus occurs when a female mosquito bites someone while its immune system is still in the process of destroying the virus's harmful coding.


Common mosquito-borne diseases in Australia include Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus and dengue fever. Other mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria, Murray Valley encephalitis and Japanese encephalitis, are very rare (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).


Ross River virus: This virus occurs throughout Australia and is spread by a variety of mosquito species. Symptoms include fever, headache, joint pain and swelling followed by a rash. The joint pain can be severe and lasts 2-6 weeks (Alderson, 2001). However, 70-90% of people have only slight symptoms, and children tend to have no symptoms at all (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).

Like West Nile fever and dengue fever, this mosquito-borne disease, the most common of its type in Australia, is on the rise. In recent years, outbreaks have become more common near urban areas, and this reportable disease is significantly impacting industry, agriculture, and tourism, as well as residents in endemic areas (Alderson, 2001).

Barmah Forest virus: This virus has similar symptoms to Ross River virus but the illness is usually shorter. The virus may also present with uncommon symptoms like glomerulonephritis and Guillain-Barre syndrome, which includes kidney inflammation (Katz et al. 1997). Sometimes the symptoms persist for up to several months and may lead to chronic illness (Hu et al. May 2006).

Dengue Fever: Dengue fever also known as break bone fever is an acute febrile infectious disease caused by dengue virus. Dengue Fever can cause no symptoms, mild symptoms with fever or severe symptoms causing death (Rizwan and Munir, June 2011). The clinical symptoms of dengue fever vary according to the age of patient. The principal symptoms include high grade fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pains, rash and mild bleeding from nose or gums and easy bruising. Generally, younger children and those with their first dengue infection have a milder illness then older children and adults (Rizwan and Munir, June 2011).

How Does Mosquito-borne Diseases Spread?


Mosquito-borne diseases are not spread directly from person to person. The mosquito picks up the virus from an infected person or animal, and spreads it when it feeds on another person or animal (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2012).


Incubation Period


The incubation period varies according to the virus:


  • Ross River virus: usually 3-11 days
  • Barmah Forest virus: usually 3-11 days
  • Dengue fever: usually 4-7 days but can range from 3 to 14 days

(National Health and Medical Research Council, 2010).




There is no specific treatment for these mosquito-borne diseases. For treating dengue fever proper medical care by nurses and doctors can save the life of the patient. It is recommended that patients must take full rest and plenty of fluids. Some patients whose platelet count is reduced markedly may require platelet transfusion to avoid bleeding and shock (Rizwan and Munir, June 2011).



Alderson, L. Ripe for an Outbreak: Predicting Ideal Conditions for Ross River Virus. (Science Selections). Environmental Health Perspectives. Volume: 109. Issue: 12: December 2001.


Hu, W. and Nicholls, N. and MacKenzie, J.S. and McMichael, A.J. and Dale, P. and Tong, S. Weather Variability, Tides, and Barmah Forest Virus Disease in the Gladstone Region, Australia: Environmental Health Perspectives. Volume: 114. Issue: 5: May 2006. Page number: 678+. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


Katz, I.A. and Hale, G.E. and Hudson, B.J. and Ibels, L.S. and Eckstein, R.P. and Dermott, P.L. 1997. Glomerulonephritis secondary to Barmah Forest virus infection. Medical Journal of Australia 167:21-23.

Locke, S.F. (1 December 2008). Bug vs Bug: How do mosquitoes survive deadly viruses unscathed?


National Health and Medical Research Council (2012). Staying Healthy: Preventing diseases in early childhood education and care services 5th Edn. NHMRC, Canberra.

Rizwan, I. and Munir, K.M. Dengue Fever. Economic Review. Volume: 42. Issue: 6 Publication date: June 2011.

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