Travel Doctor – TMVC inundated with calls following Japanese encephalitis diagnosis
Travel Doctor – TMVC has been inundated with calls from Victorians after a Melbourne man contracted Japanese encephalitis (JE), a mosquito born viral disease from Bali.
The disease is prevalent in rural and agricultural parts of SE Asia, Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait. This is the first case to be diagnosed in Melbourne.
Travel Doctor’s National Medical Director, Dr Natalie Gray who is an expert in tropical disease management said their clinics have received more than 30 calls about JE - an unprecedented amount for such a rare disease.
“The majority of people who contract JE have no symptoms but of those who do, such as headache, fever and convulsions, 30% die and of those who survive 30% are left with permanent disabilities. The disease however, isn’t transmittable from person to person and –for people travelling to high risk countries - is preventable through a safe and effective vaccine”, said Dr Gray.
“It’s really important for Victorians to remember that while places like Bali are more accessible and affordable than they were years ago, health risks still exist and travellers need to take precautions against diseases such as JE and also Dengue – which is on the rise in South East Asia.”, said Dr Gray.
“While the case in Melbourne is rare, it is a reminder that Victorians need to be proactive when they travel overseas, particularly in wet/monsoon seasons and seek the necessary pre-travel advice.”
Dr Gray’s six tips to help avoid insect transmitted diseases such as JE:
- Get vaccinations before you leave. There are specific vaccines that prevent JE;
- Use DEET based repellents, which come in spray, stick and roll on formats and a child-friendly version every time you go outside. Remember to put your sunscreen on afterwards.
- Wear long sleeve, light coloured tops and pants at dawn, dusk and night-time;
- Minimise opportunities for mosquitoes to bite like covering or empting water holding containers, and be aware when mosquitoes are more active.
- Try to stay in screened or air conditioned accommodation; and
- Use treated bed nets throughout your trip– they’re also handy for prams/pushchairs.
Medibank Media and Communications Adviser
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