18 March 2024

Mosquito warning for Kimberley residents and Easter travellers


WA Health is urging Kimberley locals and travellers to protect themselves against mosquito bites, after Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) was found in mosquitoes and sentinel chickens for the first time this year.

The warning follows other recent mosquito-borne disease activity in the region, with human cases of Ross River virus well above average and virus detections in mosquitoes.

Managing Scientist Dr Andrew Jardine said recent activity followed significant rainfall in the region, which created ideal conditions for mosquitoes.

“Ross River and Murray Valley encephalitis viruses are only spread by mosquitoes – so the message is simple: protect yourself from being bitten,” Dr Jardine said.

“Many people are bitten by mosquitoes when fishing or camping – make sure you pack an effective repellent and follow all the advice to avoid mosquito bites.

“While the risk of getting infected and becoming sick is low, the illness caused by the virus can be severe in some cases.”

Individuals are encouraged to help prevent mosquito bites by following these steps: 

Avoid being outdoors at dawn and early evening when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear long, loose fitting, light-coloured clothing.
Dress babies and children in suitable clothing, including socks/shoes, and use bed/pram netting.
Apply an effective personal mosquito repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET), picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (also known as PMD) evenly to all areas of exposed skin and always follow the label instructions.
Ensure insect screens are installed and in good condition on houses and caravans.
Use mosquito nets and mosquito-proof tents if sleeping outside.
Keep grass and other vegetation short to help prevent mosquitoes around your home. 

MVE is a serious and potentially fatal disease. Symptoms include fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, nausea, and dizziness. In young children fever may be the only early sign of infection.

Any person experiencing these symptoms should seek urgent medical advice. 
Significant MVE activity occurred in the Kimberley last wet season including two cases of MVE in children, one of whom sadly died.

Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus was detected in WA for the first time in 2023 and remains a potential risk in northern WA. 

Unlike MVE and RRV, JE is vaccine preventable, and WA Health continues to work with high-risk communities to rollout the vaccine.   

For more information, including further MVE symptoms and mosquito prevention tips, visit HealthyWA.


Media contact: WA Health Media | (08) 9222 4333 | media@health.wa.gov.au