Ross River virus cases reported in Bega Valley; Health district issues mosquito warning

Even on the Far South Coast, the whine of mosquitoes can be the herald of a unpleasant disease. 

Two cases of Ross River virus have been reported in the Bega Valley so far this year and warnings are being extended as the region prepares for an influx of Easter holiday campers. 

The two reported Ross River virus cases are part of the 18 recorded across the Southern NSW Local Health District (LHD). This number is higher than the same time last year. 

“With Easter holidays, many people will be holidaying at the South Coast and we want to warn holiday makers about the recent increase in mosquito numbers,”  the LHD’s acting director of public health Alison Nikitas said.

“Ross River virus infection can cause symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever, and sore and swollen joints. The symptoms usually resolve after several days, but some people may experience these symptoms for weeks or even months.” 

She said aside from this virus, mosquitoes can also carry other human diseases such as Barmah Forest and Kunjin viruses. 

Ms Nikitas is joining a chorus of voices encouraging people to take steps to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes to avoid getting sick.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard also warned people spending more time outdoors are at increased risk of mosquito-borne viral infections over coming days and weeks due to recent heavy rains.

Director of the Environmental Health Branch at NSW Health Ben Scalley said the Ross River virus had also been detected in mosquitoes in Sydney.

“Conditions are now prime for breeding along the coast, where we expect the risk to increase,” he said.

To avoid being bitten, steps to take include covering up as much as possible when outside, re-applying repellent every few hours and lighting mosquito coils or using vaporising mats indoors.

Ross River virus cannot be spread directly from one person to another. 

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