Mosquitoes aren’t just a nuisance – they can transmit serious diseases. To protect yourself: cover-up with a loose-fitting long sleeved shirts and long pants when outside; apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin; take special care during peak mosquito biting hours, especially around dawn and dusk; remove potential mosquito breeding sites from around the home where possible and screen windows and doors.

What is Ross River fever?

Ross River fever is caused by infection with Ross River virus, one of a group of viruses called arboviruses which are spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes.

What are the symptoms?

Many people who are infected with the virus will never develop symptoms.  Some people will have flu-like symptoms that include fever, chills, headache and aches and pains in the muscles and joints.  Some joints can become swollen, and joint stiffness may be particularly noticeable in the morning. Sometimes a rash occurs on the body, arms or legs. The rash usually disappears after 7 to 10 days.  A general feeling of being unwell, tired or weak may also occur at times during the illness.  Symptoms usually develop about 7-10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

The majority of people recover completely in a few weeks. Others may experience symptoms such as joint pain and tiredness for many months.

How is it prevented?

There is currently no vaccine against Ross River virus. To protect against mosquitoes and reduce the risk of diseases they transmit:

  • cover-up with a loose-fitting long sleeved shirt and long pants when outside
  • apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin
  • take special care during peak mosquito biting hours, especially around dawn and dusk
  • remove potential mosquito breeding sites from around the home where possible and screen windows and doors
  • take extra precautions when travelling or camping in areas with a higher risk of mosquito-borne diseases.

How is it diagnosed?

Ross River virus infection is diagnosed by detection of antibodies against the virus in the blood. It usually requires comparison of a blood test taken early in the illness and with another sample taken two weeks later to confirm the infection.

How is it treated?

There is no specific treatment for Ross River virus infection. Your doctor will be able to advise you on medications that will help ease the discomfort of the symptoms.

For more information visit Ross River virus disease – Better Health Channel