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Review highlights health hazards of Australian travel

A recent mini-review highlights several health hazards associated with this popular destination for long-haul travellers.

Tourism Australia¹s advertising slogan "Where the bloody hell are you?" needs to be used in the past tense by health practitioners doing post travel clinics.

Although there are no special vaccination requirements, an insect repellent is worth taking since several viral infections, some specific to Australia, are mosquito borne.

Epidemic polyarthritis is caused by two viruses ­ Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. Infection may not be marked by fever and arthralgia may persist for months.

Both are more common after summer and autumn rains, although seasonality is less marked in the tropical north.

Dengue fever occurs sporadically in north Queensland. Encephalitis may be caused by Murray Valley virus, Kunjin virus (closely related to West Nile virus).

Very occasionally Japanese encephalitis virus creeps into the extreme tropical north.

Bacterial infections include melioidosis, caused by the soil based bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei.

This is a multisystem disease with a high mortality and morbidity, common in diabetics and alcoholics, and the incubation period may be prolonged.

Leptospirosis is particularly common in dairy farming areas of Queensland. Mycobacterium ulcerans causes Buruli ulcer and there are endemic foci in both north and South Australia.

Rickettsial scrub and tick typhus both occur in Queensland and both may cause severe illness.

Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus are more common after Summer and Autumn rains Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus are more common after Summer and Autumn rains

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