A mosquito bite linked to a deadly disease has claimed the life of a victim in a new country.

Japanese encephalitis – which is most common in Asia and the Western Pacific and is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito – has now claimed the life of a man in Australia.

The tragic victim, who was in his 60s, passed away last week on February 28.

The mosquito-borne virus which causes the disease, has been spreading throughout the east coast of Australia in recent weeks and has been made worse by heavy rainfall and flooding.

Most humans who contract the virus however do not experience any symptoms, with only 1% developing acute symptoms, such as inflammation of the brain, sudden onset of vomiting, high fever and chills, severe headaches, sensitivity to light, neck stiffness and nausea.

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Most humans who contract the virus do not experience any symptoms (stock photo)

Of those who do develop severe symptoms, about 30% do not survive and about half of those who do will have long term neurological impacts.

Although there is no specific treatment for acute Japanese encephalitis, vaccines are available – but most people haven’t received them.

Japanese encephalitis cannot be spread from person to person and despite being found in 14 piggeries across four Australian states, it cannot be contracted by eating pork from infected pigs.

Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp, said: “We’re asking anyone who works with pigs or horses, even if they’re a pet in the backyard, to keep an eye out for and report any possible signs of this disease.

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“The most common symptoms in pigs are mummified or stillborn piglets, or piglets who show neurological problems in the first six months of life.

Although there is no specific treatment for acute Japanese encephalitis, vaccines are available – but most people haven’t received them (stock photo)
Most people have not been vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis (stock photo)

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“The disease tends to be asymptomatic in adult sows, but boars can experience infertility and testicle congestion.”

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said people should take extra care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

She said: “Especially given the recent flooding which may lead to an increase of mosquito numbers in coming weeks”.

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“Especially with these flood events, there will be a lot of static water sitting around homes, and we ask that as you do the clean-up you remove that water to reduce the risk of mosquitoes.”

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