Barmah Forest virus (BFV) disease is the second most common mosquito-borne disease in Australia. Although the majority of notifications are received from Queensland, little is known about the distribution of the disease within the state, or the important mosquito vectors and nonhuman vertebrate hosts. We conducted a retrospective statistical analysis of the notifications received from Queensland residents from 1993 to 2003 to establish long-term local incidence rates and to identify disease outbreaks. In total, 4,544 notifications were received over the 10-yr period. Disease reporting peaked in autumn, although the peak transmission season encompassed both summer and autumn. Long-term standardized incidence rates for summer/autumn and winter/spring varied across the state, showing positive spatial autocorrelation in both 6-mo periods. Although 15 instances of increased disease activity were identified, only one major disease outbreak affecting eight contiguous local government areas was detected in summer/autumn 2002/2003. This outbreak contained 297 cases, 115 more than would be expected over this period. The factors important to this outbreak are unknown and require further investigation. Although the incidence rates for BFV disease are lower than Ross River virus disease, the most reported mosquito-borne disease in Australia, several factors indicate that this virus should be considered an important public health risk in Queensland. These include consistent endemic transmission, apparent underreporting of the disease, and the potential for outbreaks in major population centers.
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Vol. 42 • No. 5