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J Med Entomol. 1999 Nov;36(6):861-8.

Barmah Forest virus epidemic on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia, 1994-1995: viruses, vectors, human cases, and environmental factors.

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Department of Medical Entomology, University of Sydney, Australia.


In 1995, the largest recorded outbreak of human disease resulting from infection with the mosquito transmitted alphavirus Barmah Forest (BF) virus occurred along the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. The virus was first isolated in early January from mosquitoes collected at Batemans Bay and predisposed the recognition of 135 human clinical cases. The cases of BF virus were identified initially from Batemans Bay during late January, and the majority (30%) of all cases came from this town. After 5 wk, all major centers on the south coast had clinical patients. Aedes vigilax (Skuse) were especially abundant at Batemans Bay, with levels up to 8 times greater than normal. This species yielded 111 isolates and appeared to be the major vector of BF virus. Attempts to examine if BF virus was maintained in the field by vertical transmission within Ae. vigilax populations were unsuccessful; no evidence of vertical transmission with BF virus, nor any other arbovirus, was found in > 17,000 adults emerging from field-collected larvae from the region following peak virus activity. In addition to BF virus, other viruses were recovered from field-collected adult mosquitoes, including Ross River (10 isolates), Edge Hill (21), and Stratford (10). Ae. vigilax again yielded the majority of these viral isolates. The BF virus outbreak appeared to be associated with several factors. A lack of recent BF virus activity in the region provided a highly susceptible human population, and unusual weather conditions of above average rainfall coupled with high tides resulted in extraordinarily large populations of Ae. vigilax.

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