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Commun Dis Intell Q Rep. 2002;26(4):600-4.

An outbreak of Barmah Forest virus disease in Victoria.

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Communicable Diseases Section, Department of Human Services, Melbourne, Victoria.


This report describes the epidemiological and clinical features of an outbreak of 47 cases of laboratory-confirmed Barmah Forest virus disease (BF disease) that occurred in Victoria between January and May 2002. Laboratory-confirmed cases were investigated, and information on travel history and clinical details was collected. Surveillance data from adult mosquito trappings and climatic conditions in the Wellington Shire were also reviewed. The response rate for interviews was 85 per cent (40/47). The most common symptoms reported by cases included arthralgia (95%), lethargy (90%) and maculopapular rash (72.5%). Transmission of BF disease in the Gippsland region was associated with unusually high numbers of Ochlerotatus camptorhynchus mosquitoes. This outbreak was of interest due to the fact that cases of BF disease outnumbered cases of Ross River virus disease (RR disease) in Victoria for the first time since data were available. Similar outbreaks of BF disease, in the absence of RR disease, occurred in Western Australia in 1993 and New South Wales in 1994/1995. Although the majority of BF disease cases reported regular outdoor activity during which they could be exposed to mosquito populations, they infrequently take precautions to limit exposure. Further efforts need to be made to educate people of the importance of using repellents and other personal preventative measures.

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