"You really do suffer": Stawell's Terry Dunn speaks about seven-year battle with Ross River virus

COMMITTED: Stawell man Terry Dunn is determined to educate people about Ross River virus, which has impacted his life for seven years. Picture: ANTHONY PIOVESAN
COMMITTED: Stawell man Terry Dunn is determined to educate people about Ross River virus, which has impacted his life for seven years. Picture: ANTHONY PIOVESAN

FROM the moment Stawell’s Terry Dunn wakes up, he “staggers” to the door and battles through 15 minutes of muscle pain before his body can finally “limber up”.

This has been Mr Dunn’s regular morning routine since he was diagnosed with Ross River virus in 2011.

He was later 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 … the soles of my feet … I couldn’t walk without a walking stick.”

The symptoms dissipated, but then reappeared two weeks later when Mr Dunn was getting out of bed to attend a family event in Port Fairy.

“As soon as I got up I knew I could not go,” he said. 

“Not only my feet, but my legs were hurting, my shoulders were hurting. 

“The muscles in my neck had seized up and I’ll never forget (the pain in) my hands and wrists.”

Mr Dunn is still battling these symptoms.

He will host a discussion night at Stawell Church of Christ on Saturday to spread awareness about the debilitating mosquito-borne disease. 

“Now it’s a regular part of my life and I don’t want to see others get it because I know the effect it has had on me,” he said.

Between January 1 and February 28 of this year, there had been 109 notified cases in the Grampians region.

This is compared to six cases in the same period, the previous year.

Mr Dunn said health officials told him, in 2011, there were only two or three people in the region living with the virus. 

“It used to be common for people who visited the Murray region, but now it is rife everywhere,” he said.

Mr Dunn said he could no longer ride a bike and struggled standing still without pain. 

“My left hand gets sore and swollen and I can’t grip things,” he said. 

“If I stand still I can instantly feel my feet and legs hurting. 

“You really do suffer.”

The Ross River support discussion night will start at 7pm. 

“I have been through the symptoms, I know what it does and it is time to warn others,” Mr Dunn said.