Infectious Diseases

The State Health Department notifies people living in the Shire of Ashburton who have contracted an infectious disease, through the local Environmental Health Officer. If you are notified that you are infected please make yourself available for an interview to assess how or where you contracted the disease.

This information is returned to the State Health Department for their database where strict procedures and protocols in notification (confidential postage) protect the patient’s confidentiality and anonymity. Any information is provided only to the State Health Department.

The data enables the State Health Department to determine if there is an outbreak of a particular disease and is used in developing prevention strategies. It also ensures infected commercial food handlers are not involved in the preparation or handling of food. The infectious disease interview allows the patient to receive information and advice concerning their particular illness.

Australian Encephalitis

Australian Encephalitis (AE) is a rare but potentially fatal disease that must be taken seriously, with infants, children, and tourists at particular risk. Only one in 500 to 1000 people infected by the bite of a mosquito would develop symptoms of AE, which includes severe headache and neck stiffness, fever, delirium and, in extreme cases, people may lapse into a coma.

People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical advice quickly as in severe cases the disease can be fatal or lead to permanent brain damage or paraplegia.

The Shire's Environmental Health Services section monitor virus activity using the sentinel chicken surveillance system, where samples are obtained for viral analysis. This program is conducted in conjunction with the Health Department and the University of Western Australia.

There is no cure or vaccine for AE.  Residents and visitors to the region should take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites.  Strategies to avoid mosquito bites include;

  • Avoid being outside when mosquitos are most active, from just before sunset until mid evening. 
  • Cover up as much as possible with loose long clothing (mosquitos can bite through tight fitting clothes). Light coloured clothing may be more effective. 
  • Keep a bottle of repellent handy to put on exposed areas of skin whenever biting mosquitos are noticed. The most effective repellents for mosquitos contain 5 to 20 percent diethyl toluamide or DEET, and are most effective and long lasting in lotion form.
  • Ensure flyscreens in houses and caravans are in good condition.
  • If camping sleep in a mosquito proof tent or under a mosquito net. Repellents only protect against mosquito bites for up to four hours.