Current Articles

The risks to Australia from emerging and exotic arboviruses

The recent pandemic spread of mosquito-borne arboviruses across multiple continents, as exemplified by West Nile (WNV)1,, chikungunya (CHIKV)2, and Zika (ZIKV)3, viruses, together with the continuing disease burden of epidemic dengue viruses (DENVs)1, multiple importations of yellow fever virus (YFV) into populous areas of Asia4, and the potential threat of some other, possibly unknown, emerging arboviral threat, constitute a wake-up call for governments to strengthen ...

John S Mackenzie and Andrew F van den Hurk     19 April 2018

Newly discovered mosquito viruses help control vector-borne viral diseases

Many well-known mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue, Zika, West Nile, chikungunya and Ross River viruses can be transmitted to vertebrates and are associated with disease in man or animals. However, the use of deep sequencing and other open-minded approaches to detect viruses in mosquitoes have uncovered many new RNA viruses, most of which do not infect vertebrates. The discovery of these ‘insect-specific' viruses (ISVs) has redefined the mosquito virome and prompted the lines of viral taxonomic classification to be redrawn1...

Roy A Hall and Jody Hobson-Peters     13 April 2018

Endemic Australian arboviruses of human health significance

Each year many thousands of cases of human arbovirus infection are notified within Australia, acquired either within Australia or when travelling overseas1. These cause diseases varying from fever and aches, to debilitating joint disease, to encephalitis and death. The arboviruses endemic to Australia are all maintained in a cycle between mosquitoes (and rarely midges) and a bird or mammalian host2. As such, the virus activity is dependent on rainfall and temperature conditions that are conducive to mosquito breeding, and ...

David W Smith     13 April 2018

The origins of dengue outbreaks in northern Queensland, Australia, 1990–2017

Dengue is one of the world's major infectious mosquito-borne diseases and although not endemic in Australia, is a significant public health concern. Queensland is vulnerable to outbreaks of dengue viruses (DENVs) and indeed, due to endemic populations of the mosquito vector Aedes aeypti, has been the only state since the 1950s to record local transmission. Determining DENV outbreak origins, and monitoring strain movement and diversity greatly assists outbreak management. It also confirms epidemiological links and potentially identifies i...

Alyssa T Pyke     13 April 2018

The molecular epidemiology of Murray Valley encephalitis virus in Australasia

Of the viruses transmitted by mosquitoes in the Australasian region, Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) virus is the major cause of brain disease in humans. There is no vaccine to prevent MVE, nor are there effective antiviral drugs available to treat infections. Therefore, surveillance of MVE is essential to control efforts. A key element to this is understanding the virus at a genetic level, which allows the tracking and identification of known or novel genetic types and can tell us about their circulation patterns.

David T Williams     13 April 2018

Protecting Australia from disease vectors: exotic mosquito management at the border

Mosquitoes, through the diseases they transmit, are considered the deadliest animals in the world1. While Australia is relatively free of many of the mosquito species capable of transmitting diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika virus, Australia is not immune to the risk of these arboviruses becoming endemic through the introduction of exotic mosquito vectors. In 150 separate instances there were 525 individual exotic mosquitoes detected at the Australian border between 2014 and 2017 (Department of Agriculture ...

Angus Sly and Callum Mack     13 April 2018

Arbovirus infections of animals: congenital deformities, encephalitis, sudden death and blindness

Viruses from five different taxonomic families have been shown to be the cause of disease outbreaks in either domesticated or wild animals. These include viruses spread by both mosquitoes and biting midges from the genus Culicoides, especially C. brevitarsis. A number of arboviruses also present significant impediments to the international movement of live animals, semen and embryos.

Peter D Kirkland     18 April 2018

Chikungunya: treatments, opportunities and possibilities

The natural progression of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) disease can consist of three stages – acute, post-acute and chronic, each having different clinical features. The acute phase (up to 3 weeks) is characterised by high viremia, fever, rash, polyarthralgia, synovitis and intense inflammation. Complete recovery is achieved in most symptomatic cases after this phase. However, in a large proportion of patients symptoms persist into a post-acute phase and in some may even continue to become chronic. In the post-acute phase, which can last up...

Joseph R Freitas, Shambhavi Rao and Suresh Mahalingam     18 April 2018

The detection and significance of emerging insecticide resistance in mosquitoes

Mosquito-borne arboviruses are increasing in incidence around the world. Australia enjoys some protection from pests and diseases afforded by its geographic isolation coupled with strict biosecurity control at its borders. However, as the volume of global trade, travel and transport expands, risk of exotic incursions to Australia is increasing. Detection of foreign mosquitoes at airports and seaports around Australia is becoming commonplace. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, which has expanded its range throughout Europe and th...

Nancy M Endersby-Harshman, Andrew R Weeks and Ary A Hoffmann     06 April 2018

The Asia-Pacific origins of the current outbreaks of Zika virus

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne arbovirus from the Flaviviridae family, first isolated in 1947 from a monkey in Uganda. In the ensuing decades up to the 2000s, there have been sporadic reports of infections and seropositivity in humans in Africa and Asia1,2. The first isolation of ZIKV outside Africa was from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Malaysia in 19663. Seropositivity has also been reported in wild monkeys in Malaysia3, although the relevance of this in sylva...

Jamal I-Ching Sam     06 April 2018

Arboviruses in pregnancy: consequences of maternal and fetal infection

Epidemics and localised outbreaks of infections due to arthropod borne (arbo) viruses, have been described for hundreds of years. Few viruses to date are known to transmit from mother to fetus, causing either teratogenic effects or fetal demise (see recent reviews Charlier et al.1 and Marinho et al.2). Many arboviruses are zoonotic but there appear to be few parallels between the effect of these viruses following human or animal infection during pregnancy. Higher rates of MTCT (mother to child transmission) m...

William Rawlinson     06 April 2018

Neurological disease caused by flavivirus infections

The Flavivirus genus contains dozens of species with varying geographical distributions. Most flavivirus infections in humans are asymptomatic or manifest as a non-specific febrile illness, sometimes accompanied by rash or arthralgia. Certain species are more commonly associated with neurological disease and may be termed neurotropic flaviviruses. Several flaviviruses endemic to Australia and our near northern neighbours are neurotropic, such as Murray Valley encephalitis virus, West Nile (Kunjin) virus and Japanese encephalitis virus. F...

Tristan Gibbs and David J Speers     06 April 2018

Feature Product

A Guide to Mosquitoes of Australia

A Guide to Mosquitoes of Australia

Provides a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to the mosquitoes of Australia and key strategies for managing them.

Feature Product

The Australian Bird Guide

The Australian Bird Guide

The most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated field guide to Australia’s unique birdlife.

The Australian Society of Microbiology

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