Surveillance should be strengthened to improve epidemiological understandings of mosquito-borne Barmah Forest virus infection

Ehlkes, Lutz, Eastwood, Keith, Webb, Cameron, and Durrheim, David (2012) Surveillance should be strengthened to improve epidemiological understandings of mosquito-borne Barmah Forest virus infection. Western Pacific Surveillance and Response, 3 (3). pp. 63-68.

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Introduction: Barmah Forest virus (BFV) is a mosquito-borne virus causing epidemic polyarthritis in Australia. This study used case follow-up of cases from the surveillance system to demonstrate that routinely collected BFV notification data were an unreliable indicator of the true location of exposure.

Methods: BFV notifications from June 2001 to May 2011 were extracted from the New South Wales (NSW) Notifiable Conditions Information Management System to study case distribution. Disease cluster analysis was performed using spatial scan statistics. Exposure history data were collected from cases notified in 2010 and 2011 to accurately determine travel to high-risk areas.

Results: Cluster analysis using address data identified an area of increased BFV disease incidence in the mid-north coast of NSW contiguous with estuarine wetlands. When travel to this area was investigated, 96.7% (29/30) cases reported having visited coastal regions within four weeks of developing symptoms.

Discussion: Along the central NSW coastline, extensive wetlands occur in close proximity to populated areas. These wetlands provide ideal breeding habitats for a range of mosquito species implicated in the transmission of BFV. This is the first study to fully assess case exposure with findings suggesting that sporadic cases of BFV in people living further away from the coast do not reflect alternative exposure sites but are likely to result from travel to coastal regions. Spatial analysis by case address alone may lead to inaccurate understandings of the true distribution of arboviral diseases. Subsequently, this information has important implications for the collection of mosquito-borne disease surveillance information and public health response strategies.

Item ID: 25946
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2094-7313
Keywords: Barmah Forest virus, surveillance, epidemiological
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2013 06:13
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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