Two people have been diagnosed with malaria in Mackay.
Two people have been diagnosed with malaria in Mackay. Andre Penner

Two cases of malaria detected in Mackay

TWO people in Mackay have been diagnosed with malaria since the start of the year.

Queensland Health notifiable disease statistics indicate only four cases of malaria have been reported in Queensland since January 1, and two of those were in the Mackay Hospital and Health Services area.

It's understood the people did not contract the disease in Australia but recently came from overseas.

Mackay Hospital and Health Services is expected to release a statement today.

CSIRO mosquito biologist Dr Nigel Beebe, of Brisbane, said the Mackay region's weather had been "been dry as chips" and "mosquito numbers had been down".

With that in mind, and the fact it was rare to have a local transmission of malaria, he said it was likely those affected had contracted the disease overseas.

"If they had not been out of Australia then that would be particularly interesting. It would require investigation to work out what was going on."

Dr Beebe explained malaria is transmitted by anopheles mosquitoes, which do live in Australia is our natural ecosystems, mainly in northern Australia.

However, he said the lowest area malaria can exist is Mackay so "it's not impossible, it's just highly unlikely" they were local transmissions.

"The last one was in 2002 and the guy came back from Madagascar and was camping in the Daintree rainforest," he said.

Dr Beebe said aside from this one case, malaria local transmissions were wiped from Australia in the 1960s with a chemical called "chloroquine which now has a lot of resistance to it".

He also said there were four different species of malaria mosquito and in some instances the disease could "lie dorment in your liver for a period of time and come out several months later".

With other species "you can get killed pretty quickly and you have to deal with it immediately".

While the life threatening disease is "very curable", Dr Beebe said diagnosis in Australia could be "the tricky bit".

For people living in places such as Papua New Guinea, malaria is "always on the list if you have a fever, but in Australia it is not".

It comes as Mackay Regional Council has issued a warning about another mosquito-borne condition, dengue fever, in the region.



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