Reports of Ross River Fever on the rise
CLARENCE Valley has proven to be a highly susceptible area to the mosquito-borne virus Ross River Fever, with reported cases of the virus in the region growing almost seventeen-fold from last year.
The NSW Department of Health has warned people, especially those living in warm climates beside major rivers, to be wary of mosquitoes and to ensure they stay protected.
"NSW Health's Arbovirus Monitoring Program has recently detected Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus in mosquitoes in Sydney, including around the Georges River, the Homebush and Hawkesbury areas, as well as a number of other parts of the State," said Paul Corben, director of Public Health for Mid North Coast and Northern NSW Local Health Districts.
"These infections can cause symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever and, sore and swollen joints," Mr Corben said.
"The symptoms usually resolve after several days but some people may experience these symptoms for weeks or even months," he said.
"There is no specific treatment for these viruses. The best way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes."
ROSS RIVER HITS THE VALLEY: CLAIRE Purvis was innocently changing a tyre on her bike while on holidays when a simple mosquito bite affected her life greatly.
So far this year reported cases of Ross River Fever in the Northern Rivers district have totalled 319. For the same period last year there were 19 reported cases.
These figures have been mirrored across the state with almost 550 reported cases so far this year, compared to just 79 in the same period last year.
Autumn is the prime breeding season for mosquitoes and mosquito-borne viruses such as Ross River Fever and Barmah Forest Fever so the number of reported cases is expected to grow in the coming months.
Mr Corben warned people travelling away over the Easter break to be extra vigilant in protecting against mosquito bites to limit the chances of disease contraction.
"It is possible that these mosquitoes will be carrying the even more serious viruses such as Kunjin and Murray Valley encephalitis," he said.
"It is particularly important for people planning to take trips during the Easter holidays to be prepared with measures to prevent mosquito bites."
- Avoid being outside unprotected
- Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing
- Apply mosquito repellent regularly
- Don't use repellents on the skin of children under three months
- Use flyscreens and nets when camping
- Limit mosquito breeding at home by removing water build-ups