Residents warned on Ross River virus after outbreak last summer

Last summer was one of the worst for reported cases of the mosquito-transmitted disease, Ross River and residents are being warned to take precautions during these next summer months.  

Western Victoria MP Jaala Pulford said that while the higher numbers of mosquitoes during summer were mostly a nuisance factor, some mosquitoes could transmit diseases such as Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus diseases.

Ms Pulford said local councils and the Department of Health and Human Services had programs in place to monitor and, where needed, reduce mosquito numbers.

“We know mosquitoes can be annoying, but some can transmit diseases, so the people of Western Victoria need to be extra diligent and protect themselves this summer,” she said.

As of January 1 this year until the end of February there had been 109 notified cases in the Grampians region, compared with six during the same time frame in 2016. 

“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,” Ms Pulford said.

“Beating the mosquito bites is simple and there are steps everyone in our local community should take to protect themselves and their families this summer.”

Mosquitoes are at their most active at dawn and dusk, although some species can be present and bite throughout the day.

Victorians can remain protected by fitting insect screens to doors and windows, and ensuring they are in good condition.

Wearing long, loose-fitting clothing and using a suitable insect repellent containing picaridin or DEET as an active ingredient on exposed skin areas were also recommended. 

Campers were also encouraged to use mosquito nets at night, while camping, in a tent or cabin, and using mosquito coils in the small enclosed areas outside of the accommodation.

Stawell resident Terry Dunn 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, the soles of my feet, I couldn’t walk without a walking stick.

“You really do suffer.”

This story What you need to do to avoid contracting Ross River virus first appeared on The Ararat Advertiser.