Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Australia

Mosquitoes are considered the deadliest animal in the world. How do these tiny insects get this huge reputation? It is through the diseases they carry. In Australia, the main diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are Australian Encephalitis, Barmah Forest, Dengue Fever, and Ross River Virus. Want to learn more about these diseases? MosQuit has investigated the symptoms and treatments.

How Do Mosquitoes Transmit Disease

When female mosquitoes feed on blood, they also swallow any viruses or parasites living in the blood. These viruses and parasites are transferred through saliva to the next person the mosquito bites. Any disease that is spread in this way from mosquito to human (or animal) is known as a 'mosquito-borne disease'.

While the mosquito may not be affected, these mosquito-borne diseases can cause immense suffering for humans. Nearly 700 million people worldwide contract mosquito-borne illnesses each year, causing more than one million deaths.

Common Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Australia

Australian Encephalitis

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. Most mosquitoes that carry this disease are generally found in the Northern Territory. There are two types of encephalitis: primary encephalitis: when the virus or bacteria infects the brain or secondary encephalitis: when the immune system reacts to an infection elsewhere in the body and starts attacking the brain.

Symptoms of Encephalitis include high fever, headache, stiff neck, vomiting, sensitivity to like, confusion or drowsiness.

Treatment depends on the case of Encephalitis. Hospitalisation can occur and a number of tests are run. Medical attention is required straight away.

Barmah Forest

This mosquito-borne disease is only found in Australia, particularly around inland waterways and coastal regions. An infection from the virus is not fatal and people generally recover.

Some symptoms of Barmah Forest include fever, chills, headache, tiredness, joint pain, muscle tenderness, rash, and swollen lymph glands.

A blood test will confirm if you have the Barmah Forest virus. Treatment involves managing the symptoms and sometimes medicine is not always necessary. Recovery can be within a few weeks or up to 6+ months.

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever is similar to a bad case of the flu. Most people recover in a few weeks but sometimes the infection is more serious and occasionally fatal. Dengue Fever is all around the world, mostly in sub-tropical countries such as Africa, Asia, and South America. In Australia, the disease is most commonly found in Queensland mosquitoes.

Symptoms include fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle pain, nausea, swollen glands, rash, bleeding nose or gums, and fatigue. Severe Dengue Fever affects mainly children. Symptoms include bruising, nose bleeds, stomach pain, breathing difficulties, persistent vomiting, confusion and restlessness.

A blood test will confirm if Dengue Fever. In most cases, treatment involves managing the symptoms.

Ross River Virus

Ross River virus can be found anywhere in Australia but is more common in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia between January and April. About 4,000 people get the virus every year, and it is becoming more common on the fringes of urban areas.

Symptoms include joint pain, headache, fever, fatigue, joint swelling and rash. Most people recover in a few weeks, but symptoms can continue for months.

A blood test will confirm if you have Ross Rover Virus. There is no known cure and most people will recover in time.

Common Mosquito-Borne Diseases Outside of Australia

You may have heard of other types of mosquito-borne diseases around the world. Here are some common ones found outside of Australia:

· Chikungunya Virus

· Malaria

· Yellow Fever

· Zika Virus

Treatment and Control

Simple measures can be taken by individuals to limit their contact with mosquitoes.

1. Avoid outdoor exposure during dusk and dawn.

2. Wear light coloured clothing to make yourself unappealing to mosquitoes.

3. Covering up your body in highly populated mozzie areas can prevent you from being bitten.

4. Stay and sleep in air-conditioned rooms that are screened.

5. Avoid wet or flooded areas.

6. Always have your MosQuit Clips, Bracelets, Patches, Sticker and Bands on or around you.


Do not use this information:

  • to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

  • for therapeutic purposes

  • as a substitute for the advice of a health professional.

We do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage caused by use of the information provided on our website. You should obtain advice relevant to your particular circumstances from a health professional.