Mosquitoes can be a carrier of many bacteria, viruses and parasites. They were discovered to be a vector by Ronald Ross researching the transmission of malaria in India in the last decade of the nineteenth century.
By extracting blood, mosquitoes can transmit disease without being affected themselves. Nearly 700 million people contract a mosquito-borne illness each year resulting in over one million deaths.
Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include: malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever, filariasis, tularemia, dirofilariasis, Japanese encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, Ross River fever, Barmah Forest fever, La Crosse encephalitis, Zika fever, and the newly identified Keystone virus.
In Australia, the main disease transmitted by mosquitoes is caused by the Ross River virus (RRV), but there are also occasional minor outbreaks of the Barmah Forest virus (BFV), Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE), and Kunjin disease (KUN).
The Ross River virus is not contagious and is spread only by mosquitoes. Consequently the virus is often found near wetlands, marshes and river estuaries. It is mainly found in the northern Australian tropics but has also appeared as far south as Tasmania. The main reservoir hosts are kangaroos and wallabies, although horses, possums and possibly birds and flying foxes play a role. Over 30 species of mosquitoes have been implicated as possible vectors, but the major mosquito species for Ross River virus are Culex annulirostris in inland areas, Aedes vigilax in northern coastal regions and Ae. camptorhynchus in southern coastal regions.
Fortunately the symptoms of Ross River fever are rarely serious and most people recover after a few weeks. Despite the name, fever is not a common feature but arthritic joint pain is. The joints commonly affected include the wrists, knees, ankles, fingers and toes. A rash on the torso and limbs may also appear accompanied by enlargement of lymph nodes, especially in the groin or armpit. There may also be a feeling of ‘pins and needles’ and tenderness in the soles of the feet and palms of the hands in a small number of infected people.
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Experts can provide opinion in workers compensation cases where it is possible that a mosquito-borne disease was contracted by employees and determine if proper precautions were in place.
Experts can offer opinion in public liability cases where businesses have standing water on their premises and the public contract a disease.
Experts can also assess environments for the likelihood of mosquito-borne diseases and offer opinion in medical negligence cases where there has been misdiagnosis or inappropriate treatment has been prescribed.
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