The Southern New South Wales Local Health District (SNSWLHD) Public Health Unit (PHU) is alerting the community to the risk of Ross River Fever and Barmah Forest Virus, particularly in coastal areas.
Twelve cases of Ross River Fever (RRF) and three cases of Barmah Forest Virus (BFV) have been notified so far this year. Of these, five RRF infections and two BFV infections were notified in February.
All cases have been interviewed by the PHU and it is likely that 14 of the 15 infections were acquired in the South Coast region of NSW. Mosquito trapping and surveillance in Narooma showed a moderate number of mosquitoes in early February.
Manager Infectious Diseases, April Roberts-Witteveen, says that Ross River Fever and Barmah Forest Virus are both caused by mosquito bites.
“Residents and visitors in the South Coast area are advised to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and minimise potential exposure to the virus.
“The symptoms of both diseases are similar and include fever, chills, headache, aches and pains which typically begin within three weeks of being bitten. Tiredness and sore and swollen joints can also occur. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see their doctor,” said Ms Roberts-Witteveen.
Symptoms can subside after a few weeks but some people may experience them for weeks or even months. A rash may appear for the first 7 – 10 days of illness in some cases.
To reduce the risk of mosquito bites and possible exposure to Ross River Fever or Barmah Forest Virus, Southern NSW PHU recommends the following:
- When outside cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
- Use an effective repellent on all exposed skin. Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off with perspiration. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin.
- Take special care during peak mosquito biting hours, especially around dawn and dusk
- Remove potential mosquito breeding sites from around the home and screen windows and doors
- When camping, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleep under mosquito nets.
- Light mosquito coils or use vaporising mats indoors. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
A Ross River Fever factsheet is available from the NSW Health website at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/Ross-River-Fever.aspx
A Barmah Forest Virus factsheet is available from the NSW Health website at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/barmah_forest_virus_infection.aspx