Mosquito-borne arboviruses in Australia: the current scene and implications of climate change for human health

Int J Parasitol. 1998 Jun;28(6):955-69. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(98)00053-8.


Of the mosquito-borne arboviruses, the encephalitic Murray Valley encephalitis and Kunjin viruses are a major public health concern, but the arthritides Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses are more important in a public health sense, being responsible for a far greater number of infections. Reported cases of Ross River totalled approximately 30,000 during 1991-1996; there have been several widely separated outbreaks of Barmah Forest in recent years and case reports are increasing annually. Surveillance programmes have increased our understanding of the geographic regions, climatic conditions and vector factors associated with viruses. Virus activity is widespread but is often localised, is driven primarily by mosquito abundance and various species are involved; host factors are involved also, but are not well understood. Typically, mosquito populations are governed by availability of habitat and environmental conditions. Models of climate change predict increases in rainfall, tides and temperature for parts of Australia, and such changes have the potential to increase the risk of arbovirus transmission by increasing the distribution and abundance of vectors, and duration of mosquito and arbovirus seasons. However, the amplitude of climate change is uncertain and the ecology of arbovirus transmission is complex. It is likely that some areas will have increases in arbovirus activity and human infection with predicted climate change, but risk of increased transmission will vary with locality, vector, host and human factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alphavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Alphavirus Infections / transmission
  • Animals
  • Arbovirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Arbovirus Infections / transmission
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Climate*
  • Culicidae / physiology*
  • Culicidae / virology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Encephalitis, Arbovirus / epidemiology
  • Encephalitis, Arbovirus / transmission
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Insect Vectors / physiology*
  • Insect Vectors / virology
  • Rain
  • Temperature