Reported cases of chikungunya in Australia have jumped. There were 19 for the whole of last year, and 73 already in the first six months of this year.
The real figure is likely to be much higher, because few Australian GPs are aware chikungunya exists, and haven’t been testing for it.
There’s a good chance many Australians are suffering from this debilitating disease, not knowing what it is they have.
‘I’m sure that’s true; some aren’t being diagnosed,’ says Professor Lindsay Grayson, the director of infectious diseases at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital.
Dr Richard Gair, the Director of Tropical Public Health Services in Queensland, joined the program to explain.
Health authorities fear a dengue-like mosquito-borne virus could spread through far north Queensland following a massive outbreak in Papua New Guinea.
Since the start of the year, 11 people in Queensland have been diagnosed with chikungunya, which causes fever, rashes and prolonged joint pain.
Ten of the people contracted the virus in PNG where more than 3000 people have been hit by the virus.
Another person was bitten by a mosquito in Indonesia before flying to Queensland.
The majority of the 11 affected are Australian citizens but almost half of them live outside far north Queensland.
Tropical Public Health Services director Dr Richard Gair says the PNG outbreak is recent and could lead to an outbreak in far north Queensland.