HomeMosquitoes: Peak Ross River virus season nears

Mosquitoes: Peak Ross River virus season nears

Queenslanders are urged to cover up and prevent being bitten by mosquitoes as the peak season for a debilitating virus approaches.

Queenslanders are urged to cover up to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes as the state heads towards peak Ross River virus season.

Some people who contract the virus can suffer joint pain and fatigue for months after their infection, but most recover within weeks.

The most common symptoms include fever, swollen and painful joints, and rashes.

Mosquitoes contract the virus from biting an infected animal then transmit it to humans when they bite the skin, but it isn’t contagious so it can’t be passed on through human-to-human contact.

To avoid being bitten, Queenslanders are encouraged to regularly apply insect repellent, wear loose, light-coloured clothing that covers exposed skin and use pest control devices like mosquito traps where possible.

Also empty containers that hold water at least once a week and have a good quality fly screen to stop the bugs from easily entering homes.

According to Queensland Health’s acting deputy director general and chief medical officer Keith McNeil, Ross River infections account for the largest number of human mosquito-borne disease notifications in the state.

Summer is peak time for cases.

“If you’re enjoying the great outdoors this summer to play sport, go for bushwalks, catch up on gardening or even hosting a backyard barbecue, you need to be aware of mosquitoes,” Professor McNeil said.

“Biting can be experienced at any time of day, but some species are most active at dusk and dawn.

“There’s no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment available for Ross River virus, so it’s important you take steps to avoid infection as much as possible.”

According to Queensland Health data, there were 1649 cases in 2019 but that figure jumped dramatically to 3407 last year.

So far this year, 753 infections have so far been reported.

Professor McNeil said the 2020 figures rose to the highest levels in five years and most cases came from South East Queensland.

“The reasons for the fluctuating rates of Ross River virus in Queensland over the last two years is complex, but is understood to be influenced by environmental factors such as rainfall – with restrictions during the pandemic also potentially playing a role due to more people enjoying the great outdoors locally in 2020,” he said.

“We also know that we generally see an increase in Ross River virus every four years or so – and 2020 was right on target.”

It is common for the number of Ross River virus cases to rise in December before peaking in February and March, coming with the onset of rain and warm temperatures.


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