Ross River Virus was first recognised in Northern Australia, and now there have been cases diagnosed as far south as Melbourne. Its movement south is associated with climate change, and it is likely to become much more frequent as our world warms. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and is an illness characterised by fever, aching joints and sometimes a rash. These symptoms may occur together or separately, and in some people the aches and pains and fatigue may persist for months.
It is diagnosed by a blood test and there is no curative treatment. All we can do is help with supportive care and anti-inflammatories.
The best preventative treatment is to avoid getting bitten. Mosquito screens around the house, light clothing and mosquito repellants containing Picaridin or DEET are helpful.
This is just one of a number of mosquito borne diseases that will increasingly threaten our health, and another reason why it is so important for all of us to do what we can to minimise our ecological footprint.
Our health ultimately depends on the health of our environment.
Written by Dr Malcolm Altson