Mosquito-borne virus plagues north Qld

The number of people infected with a mosquito-borne virus is rising as two dengue outbreaks plague tropical far north Queensland.

Since late last year there have been two outbreaks in the state’s north – 58 cases in Cairns and 17 in Port Douglas.

Fourteen new cases have been reported in the past week.

Cairns Tropical Public Health Unit director Richard Gair says the outbreak is significant but nowhere near as bad as an outbreak in 2009, when more than 1000 people were infected.

“I would say it’s a significant outbreak … but it’s about what we’d expect based on recent numbers over the last few years,” he told AAP.

“We’ve got a little more this year than we did last year, but I don’t know what the final number is going to be.”

Three of those infected this wet season have been hospitalised.

Dengue can cause a sudden fever with severe headaches, muscle and joint pains and can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea or a rash.

Dr Gair says the virus was likely brought to the region by people infected in Indonesia or Thailand and spread by mosquitoes.

Dengue outbreaks usually occur in the tropics, where a specific type of mosquito that spreads the virus is found.

Health authorities are trying to contain the outbreaks by spraying mosquitoes and removing mosquito breeding spots where outbreaks have occurred.

Between December 2012 and July 2013 about 184 cases were reported in the Cairns region.

Queensland Health recommends removing pots of water and spraying dark areas around properties to stop the spread of dengue.

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