Virus surveillance: National overview

This page contains an overview of arbovirus and malaria surveillance in Australia.

Page last updated: 18 November 2010

The presence of arboviruses in the environment is achieved through surveillance of sentinel chicken flocks and pig herds and the trapping of mosquitoes for virus isolation and human case surveillance.

The emphasis of the chicken surveillance is on detecting the presence of flaviruses (Murray Valley encephalitis and Kunjin viruses) across northern, inland and south-eastern Australia. Regularly during the arboviral season chickens in the flocks are bled, and the samples are tested for antibodies to these flaviviruses.

To detect incursions of the Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus into Australia, a number of pig herds are maintained as well. These are located in Far North Queensland, the Northern Territory and on the islands of the Torres Strait. It is expected that the results of this surveillance will be detailed on this web-site in due course. Western Australia is currently evaluating the suitability of using sentinel cattle for JE surveillance.

The wider identification of arboviruses (including other non-disease associated alpha and flavi-viruses) occurs through sensitive laboratory detection of them in mosquitoes obtained from the trapping described in mosquito surveillance. Again the New South Wales arbovirus website routinely presents data on the isolation of particular viruses in particular locations. The Northern Territory also regularly collects data on the isolation of particular viruses in particular locations. Researchers in Western Australia obtain similar information all year round for Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus in the south west of Western Australia and once or twice a year for flaviviruses (occasionally alphaviruses) in the north of the state.