Unusual disease in Tasmania

Woman using mosquito repellant

Two cases of laboratory-confirmed Barmah Forest virus disease have been reported in Tasmania in 2019, and the Public Health Service has advised people living in and travelling to the East Coast to protect themselves against mosquitoes.

Barmah Forest virus infection is spread via mosquitoes from infected animals to humans. Most people infected with the virus won’t develop any symptoms, but others may develop joint pain, a rash, tiredness and weakness, joint swelling and stiffness, muscle aches and pain and flu-like symptoms. There is no specific antiviral treatment available but general recommendations include controlling fever and pain with paracetamol and increasing fluid intake.

The Public Health Service's Clinical Director Dr Faline Howes said that the situation is unusual: “These may be the first diagnosed cases of this virus caught in Tasmania. Over the last five years, two cases of Barmah Forest virus disease have been notified; both were probably caught interstate.”

Given that there is no specific treatment available, prevention is most definitely better than cure and travellers should strive to protect themselves against mosquito bites by avoiding mosquito-infested areas, covering up with loose-fitting clothes, using mosquito repellent and taking special care during peak mosquito biting hours.