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Zoo Keeper sues Rocky Council for $1.1m after mozzie bite

Bloodsucker mosquito on human skin, low point of view
Bloodsucker mosquito on human skin, low point of view Anest

A FORMER Rockhampton zookeeper says council failed to protect her from the risk of mosquitoes resulting in her contracting two debilitating diseases.

Anita Nicole Green is suing Rockhampton Regional Council for roughly $1.1 million, claiming it should have taken reasonable steps to eradicate mosquitoes from the zoo.

As the 44-year-old woman's employer, the defendant owed a duty of care to "provide adequate and effective personal protective equipment and substances at the zoo to minimise the risk of contacting an injury or illness", a claim lodged on her behalf with the Supreme Court at Rockhampton says.

But, it says, she has since contracted both Ross River Virus (RRV) and Barmah Forest Virus (BFV) from her time as an employee in 2009.

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Both diseases are spread via mosquitoes and transferred from animals to humans.

Prior to January 17, 2010, council had received three written and one verbal complaints about mosquito infestation at the zoo, the claim says.

It was alleged the defendant had knowledge that RRV and BFV were mosquito borne diseases in high prevalence in Queensland, particularly in areas adjacent to freshwater lagoons.

The zoo is located adjacent to the Murray Lagoon and several other freshwater lagoons. The zoo was subject to mosquito infestations in the summer months and it housed animals that were regular hosts of both diseases.

Ms Green's claim said the defendant knew employees in the zoo were frequently bitten and at risk of contracting the chronic illnesses.

The plaintiff has suffered a psychiatric injury, chronic fatigue syndrome and post-infection fatigue syndrome. As a direct result from the above diseases, Ms Green says she suffers from a number of medical ailments including headaches, night fevers, nausea, occasional vomiting, body pain and physical weakness.

The claim alleged the defendant did not provide a risk assessment, protective clothing or safety review of the zoo.

Rockhampton Regional Council CEO Evan Pardon said the matter was currently with their insurers and they were unable to provide any comment.

The Queensland Department of Health Ross offers the following advice on Ross River Fever -

Signs and symptoms:

  • Fever with joint pain and swelling
  • Raised red rash on trunk and limbs
  • Most people become unwell within 11 days of being bitten

Transmission:

  • Cannot be spread from human to human
  • Is spread by a number of different types of mosquitoes from varying environments

Treatment:

  • There is no specific drug treatment for Ross River Fever
  • Treatment involves managing the symptoms that develop

Prevention:

  • Avoid being outside during times of heavy infestation of mosquitoes
  • Use insect repellents
  • Screen living and sleeping areas

For further information contact your local doctor, community health centre or nearest public health unit.

Topics:  barmah forest virus central queensland rockhampton rockhampton regional council rockhampton zoo ross river virus


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