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QIMR Berghofer’s role in limiting the potential impact of mosquito-borne viruses is key.

Professor Andreas Suhrbier and Associate Professor Greg Devine have been studying the chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne virus often causing immense physical pain that can last from a few weeks to many months.

Taken from an African word meaning ‘that which bends up’, chikungunya describes the posture of people of suffering from the disease, curled up in pain.

Professor Suhrbier and Associate Professor Devine believe it really is only a matter of time before the virus arrives in Australia, due to an aggressive type of mosquito now carrying the virus — the Asian Tiger mosquito (or Aedes albopictus).

You can help us now by donating now and supporting our research.

The science

Professor Suhrbier and his team at QIMR Berghofer are working hard to identify effective treatments for chikungunya. While there is currently no cure, treatments used for rheumatoid arthritis have had some surprisingly positive results.

He explains: “We now know that the inflammation associated with chikungunya arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are surprisingly similar, suggesting one or more of the many drugs being developed for rheumatoid arthritis may work for chikungunya and other related mosquito borne viruses such as Ross River virus.

“What we now need to work out is which ones are safe and which ones work best.

The number of cases of chikungunya in Australia

Associate Professor Greg Devine and his team at QIMR Berghofer are working on defense strategies to stop the mosquito from breeding.

This involves investigating effective control strategies to prevent the rapid spread of chikungunya and similar mosquito-borne viruses. From a device that you hang indoors preventing the mosquito from biting, to an insecticide the female mosquito carries to her nest of eggs, Associate Professor Devine anticipates having in place formidable options prior to the mosquito’s arrival.

Both these projects will be significant in restricting the impact of chikungunya, both require significant resources. To ensure we have the best tools available to protect the people of Queensland from this painful virus and other debilitating diseases, we need to raise $250,000 by June 30.

Your gift today can help to keep our community safe and allow us to continue enjoying the outdoor lifestyle we treasure in Queensland, and across Australia.


Topaz Conway - a first-hand experience of chikungunya

Topaz Conway, like a growing number of Australians, caught the virus while on holiday, and lived with its painful symptoms for almost a year.

“I’m a strong, healthy person, and it was painful just to get out of bed. I had no energy and my joints constantly ached. I can’t imagine what this virus could do to the elderly or children.

“It was a fever like I had never experienced, with chills and whole body aches. I knew I needed to get home, so I took as many painkillers as I could and got on the next plane to Brisbane. I went straight to the emergency department.

Unfortunately, the doctors she met with had no knowledge of chikungunya, and were unable to diagnose Topaz’s illness.

“Nobody could tell me what I had. I was in so much pain I couldn't even pick up a kettle to pour myself a cup of tea.

Luckily for Topaz, she worked in medical research; and upon learning of her symptoms, she was encouraged to speak to QIMR Berghofer’s Professor Andreas Suhrbier.

“When I spoke to Andreas, he recommended I get tested for chikungunya virus. The test came back positive, which meant I finally knew what I had.

“Unfortunately though, there was no known treatment, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to cope with the pain for so many months.

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