Australian dies after catching rare disease from mosquitoes


Melbourne, June 22: An Australian man died on Thursday after catching a rare mosquito-borne disease while on holiday overseas.

The 60-year-old Victoria state resident contracted Japanese encephalitis while on a 10-day holiday in Southeast Asia in May, reports Xinhua news agency.

He died at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH), where he spent more than three weeks since returning from his holiday.

It is believed to be only the 10th recorded case of the disease in Australia since 2001.

Japanese encephalitis is endemic to Southeast Asia where it is common in rural areas. Between 20 and 30 per cent of cases of the disease cause a brain infection which ultimately leads to death.

Steven Tong, the doctor who treated the deceased man at the RMH, said that the risk of catching Japanese encephalitis was “vanishingly rare” due to the small number of mosquitoes that carry the disease.

“We don’t have Japanese encephalitis within Australia itself, so it has to be acquired during travel to areas of risk,” Tong told the media on Thursday.

Doctors said that man did not have any contact with animals or travel to rural areas while in Southeast Asia, but did report being bitten by mosquitoes many times.

Tong said that there was no threat the disease would spread within Australia because the disease breeds in aquatic birds which are not found in the country.


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