Ross River Fever is a disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an illness that is very similar in symptoms to common influenza and can last for several weeks. It has varying levels of effect in people and can be quite debilitating.
The first known cases in Australia occurred in the Riverina area in 1928. Before this disease was totally identified as Ross River Fever it was known as ’epidemic polyarthritis’. Ross River Fever is transmitted by mosquitoes then outbreaks are more prevalent in the summertime and in wetter climates or after times of large rain events. When mosquitoes are more prevalent then so will be Ross River Fever outbreaks. Tropical or coastal areas are obviously areas where mosquitoes will breed over longer periods given the circumstances that they need to regenerate themselves are greater.
Nowhere is totally isolated from the effects of mosquitoes; however, it is obvious that cooler and drier climates such as those experienced in land and in southern states will have less outbreaks of Ross River Fever simply due to the lower incidences of mosquitoes.
Ross River Fever is a virus and is not contagious. It is spread only by mosquitoes. Symptoms of the disease can vary; however, most people suffer severe lack of energy, rashes, joint pain,sore throats and in some cases, although very uncommon, patients can suffer with diarrhoea. Due to the fact that it is a virus it can stay in the system for many years and some symptoms can re-occur. Recovery from the initial outbreak can vary with some people still suffering six weeks after initial symptoms appearing. The only way to truly identify this virus is with a blood test and can be confused with symptoms of influenza and the common cold.
There is no vaccination and therefore prevention of mosquito bites is the best way to minimise your chances of catching Ross River Fever. If you are likely to be in an area where mosquitoes may occur then there are many insect skin repellents available and should be used.
Our homes are one area where we can look to prevent mosquito bites. Australians love the outdoors and we have the climates in most cases that make living outdoors very attractive. During these periods of entertainment or relaxation it is wise to take steps to prevent mosquitoes from sharing the environment with you. Burning of various mosquito coils can be quite effective as well as skin repellents.
Perhaps consider insect screening your entire home. This can be done quite effectively and will prevent mosquitoes from entering if effective cover is provided. Seconline have available on their website instructions on how to measure for different types of insect screens, installed with either standard fibreglass mesh or midge mesh specifically designed to keep out small insects. They also have security screens that will prevent mosquitoes from entering your home as well as give you a greater level of barrier from unwanted guests in the form of intruders.
In closing it is always best to try and prevent Ross River Fever as at this point there is no known cure and this disease can re-occur and persist for many years. If at any point you feel that you may have contracted the disease because of exposure to mosquitoes then we would suggest that you visit your doctor and discuss with him this possibility and perhaps suggest a blood test so as to gain proper determination.