Virus reports emerge after mouse plague

An increase in rodent activity has seen cases of LCMV reported in the Darling Downs health region. Picture: CONTRIBUTED.

An increase in rodent activity has seen a number of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus cases reported in the Darling Downs health region, which includes the South Burnett.

Public Health Unit Senior Medical Officer Dr Liam Flynn said transmission of the virus can be avoided with frequent hand washing and overall good hygiene.

“We have seen an increase in rodents, particularly mice, in our rural areas,” Dr Flynn said.

“Human infections are usually caused by exposure to an infected animal through the unintentional ingestion or inhalation of its urine or excrement. This includes nesting materials, urine, droppings, and saliva.”

Dr Flynn said the best way to avoid getting LCMV was frequent hand washing, particularly before eating, and thorough cleaning of the areas where rodents have been.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus or LCMV is transmitted by mice and can spread to humans with symptoms including severe headaches and in some cases meningitis.

Meningitis is an inflammation in the brain and spinal cord caused by a virus or bacteria.

Viral meningitis may cause headaches, fever, stiff neck, nausea and vomiting, decreased appetite, and lethargy.

Pregnant women are particularly at risk with evidence showing that the virus can affect unborn babies and may cause miscarriage.

LCMV is not transmitted person to person and year to date there have been 10 cases confirmed in the Darling Downs Public Health Unit area.

This is significant as previously LCMV was not known to be a problem in Australia with a case being identified in New South Wales in March 2021.

“Good hygiene practices like washing your hands before eating, discouraging mice from in and around your home, and keeping areas clean, are the best methods of prevention.”

LCMV is a virus and usually improves on its own, but it is still important to see a doctor or call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) if you are feeling unwell.