A Canadian tourist, 19, has died after contracting one of Australia's most rare mosquito-borne diseases while on holiday in the Northern Territory (NT). The young woman became very ill after she returned home to Calgary from a holiday in the NT earlier this month and was admitted to hospital where she died yesterday.
As a result, the NT Department of Health has issued a warning advising people to cover up to avoid being bitten, after the Canadian woman became the third person in the NT to contract Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) this year. Earlier this month a 27-year-old man died from the disease in South Australia (SA).
COMMENT: SA Health's chief medical officer, Paddy Phillips, said the two cases were the first reported instances of locally acquired MVE since 1974. Dr. Markey said MVE was the most dangerous endemic mosquito-borne disease in the NT, for which there is no known vaccine or antidote. Unlike other mosquito-borne illnesses, which are not typically fatal, such as Ross River fever, about 25% of people who contract MVE die. Symptoms include severe headaches, high fevers, tremors and seizures.