Ross River Virus is a mosquito-borne disease that is becoming more common. It causes arthritis and flu-like symptoms which can be severe and debilitating. Prevention of mosquito bites is key as there is currently no specific treatment for this virus.
Ross River Fever is the disease caused by Ross River Virus which is passed to humans through mosquitoes. It is thought that Wallabies and Kangaroos are natural reservoirs of this virus. Wetter and more humid seasons create ideal conditions for high mosquito populations, and thus increase the spread of Ross River Virus.
Symptoms of Ross River Fever usually start between 3 days and 2 weeks after being bitten by a mosquito carrying Ross River Virus. The main symptoms are joint pain and swelling (experienced by more than 95% of patients), tiredness (90%), fever (50-60%), rash (40-60%), and other flu-like symptoms. The disease is not fatal but the effects, especially the 'arthritis', can be severe and persistent. Recovery from the disease takes 3-6 months on average, but some people can be affected for over a year.
Ross River Virus is endemic in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. In Australia, the most common areas for Ross River Virus transmission are the Northern Territory, Queensland, northern New South Wales and tropical Western Australia. Recently, there has been an increase in the number of cases reported in more Southerly locations and in more urban areas.
Warm, humid, costal and tropical areas, as well as inland areas with waterways or high irrigation, have the highest percentage of cases. This is due to higher numbers of mosquitoes.
At present, there is no specific treatment for Ross River Virus itself and no way to prevent development of the disease. The goal of Ross River Fever therapy is to reduce the discomfort from symptoms. There is no known way to prevent the arthritis-like symptoms of the disease becoming chronic, and it is not known why this occurs in some cases and not others. Rest, physiotherapy and some medications can help alleviate these symptoms.
Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to prevent Ross River Fever.