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23.5.1 The nature of insect-vectored and environmental diseases


The Ross River Virus (RRV) and Barmah Forrest Virus (BFV), are related pathogens which are endemic over wide areas of Australia. These diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes, thus are a feature of the general environment, and attack members of the Australian community generally. Neither of these diseases are, of their nature, employment-specific (i.e. specific to a particular employment in the way that silicosis is a disease confined primarily to underground miners).

For acceptance of liability in relation to a claim for either of these diseases, the Delegate would have to be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities (Note: not merely a possibility) that the infected mosquito bit the client during hours of duty and not at some other time. Demonstration of such a probability is, frankly, likely to be difficult for clients. In the case of Re Tully and Comcare (1996) the AAT rejected the claim of an airport fireman at Coolangatta, although he worked near a mosquito-infested pond of water. The Tribunal noted, among other factors, the incidence of mosquitoes near his residence, the nature of his recreational activities and that he had a greater exposure to mosquito bites while off duty.