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Published Date: 2018-01-01 12:14:56
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Ross River virus - Australia: (VI)
Archive Number: 20180101.5531129
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sat 30 Dec 2017 4:30 PM AEDT
Source: Bendigo Advertiser [edited]

[The Ross River virus] rate of infection skyrocketed in Bendigo during 2017, but the state's health department says the chance of contracting it -- and other mosquitoborne diseases -- this summer [2017-2018] is low.

Department of Health statistics show there were 80 cases of Ross River in the Bendigo region in the past 12 months, up from just 12 in the previous year -- an increase of almost 600 per cent. That figure jumps to 396 when cases from across the entire Loddon Mallee region are accumulated.

It is thought [that] 7000 Australians contracted the virus in 2017, up from 3735 in the year before. But a Victorian health department spokesperson said the majority of those infections occurred at the start of 2017, shortly after heavy rainfalls soaked the state. By contrast, just 11 cases [have been] reported in the past 3 weeks.

Asked if recent rainfall could see rates of the virus rise again, the spokesman said: "While there was a large amount of rain recently, most of it either soaked into reasonably dry areas and we've not seen large areas of stagnant water, thus limiting mosquito breeding areas."

The state's regional development minister, Jaala Pulford, told Fairfax Media councils and the health department had programs in place to monitor and, where needed, reduce mosquito numbers. "We know mozzies can be annoying, but some can transmit diseases, so Wimmera people need to be extra diligent and protect themselves this summer [2017-2018]," Ms Pulford said. "Summer is a time of increased outdoor activity so visitors and residents should be taking measures to avoid mosquito bites as a critical step to protecting against illnesses. Beating the mozzie bites is simple and there are steps everyone in our community should take to protect themselves and their families this summer."

A Stawell resident said staggering and limping around was his regular morning routine since he was diagnosed with Ross River virus in 2011 and then diagnosed with a re-infection in 2014. "It was early September in 2011 when I became aware something was not right health wise," he said. "I woke up one morning and my feet were so sore -- I couldn't walk without a walking stick. You really do suffer."

The Department of Health spokesman encouraged people to follow advice listed on its Better Health website when trying to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Steps it suggests include:
- wearing loose-fitting clothing when outdoors;
- using mosquito repellents containing DEET or picaridin on exposed skin;
- trying to limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about (usually dusk and dawn);
- making sure there is no stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed around your home;
- fitting out holiday accommodation with mosquito netting or screens.

Cases of other mosquitoborne illnesses were also reported in Bendigo this year [2017], including chikungunya (3 cases), dengue (one case), and malaria (also one case).

[byline: Erin Witmitz, Mark Kearney, Anthony Piovesan]

communicated by:

[Although this is the 1st ProMED-mail post of Ross River virus infections in Victoria state this year (2018), the report above indicates there have been many cases in the state in 2017. Ross River virus infections occur across Australia and can be serious.

In our last post, Steve Berger pointed out that in recent years the incidence of Ross River disease (RRV) in Australia has increased somewhat, with most cases reported from Queensland. Rates in Western Australia and Northern Territory have not changed substantially (graphs cited) (see Ross River virus - Australia (07): comment 20171119.5452691).

Common symptoms of Ross River virus infections include fever, joint pain, and feeling tired and generally unwell. There are no effective treatments available for RRV. While most people recover after 2-3 weeks, some cases are very serious and can leave lingering problems such as arthritis in small joints, like those in the hands and feet, that can persist for weeks, making normal movement difficult.

As noted earlier, Ross River virus is a zoonotic alphavirus transmitted by a wide range of mosquitoes, including _Aedes_ and _Culex_ species. The recommendation to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and to avoid mosquito bites is prudent and should be adopted by individuals living in or visiting hot spots where transmission is occurring. - Mod.TY

Maps of Australia: and]

See Also

Ross River virus - Australia (07): comment 20171119.5452691
Ross River virus - Australia (06): (WA, NT) 20171114.5443770
Ross River & Barmah Forest viruses - Australia (02): (QL) comment 20170725.5202007
Ross River & Barmah Forest viruses - Australia: (QL) 20170724.5199183
Ross River virus - Australia (05): (NS) 20170307.4885428
Ross River virus - Australia (04): (WA) 20170305.4880866
Ross River virus - Australia (03): (NS, VI) 20170216.4844269
Ross River virus - Australia (02): (NS, VI) 20170213.4836055
Ross River virus - Australia: (VI) 20170209.4827733

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