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Just when you thought it was safe to go out

Just when you thought it was safe to go out

Old Dec 17th 2003, 2:52 pm
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Exclamation Just when you thought it was safe to go out

Ross River virus a big summer risk

PEOPLE living or holidaying in the coastal strip from Perth to Augusta have been warned of an impending epidemic of the mosquito-borne Ross River virus over summer.

Health authorities say a wet winter and a reprieve from the disease over the past few years mean people in the South-West are facing the biggest risk of contracting the debilitating disease since 2000.

While there have been only a handful of cases in Perth so far, authorities fear summer rains could cause the disease to spill into the metropolitan area in big numbers.

Since September there have been more than 100 confirmed cases of Ross River virus in the South-West - six times the number recorded over the same period in recent years.

There were 32 cases reported in the region for all of 2002-03 and 25 in 2001-02.

Now WA is paying the price for the low level of activity because many natural hosts of the virus such as kangaroos, wallabies and possums are no longer immune, allowing it to spread rapidly.

Ross River virus occurs when people are bitten by virus-carrying mosquitoes and develop fever, headaches, rashes and painful and swollen joints resembling arthritis.

There is no vaccine or cure and symptoms can linger for several months or even years.

The WA Health Department says people from Geraldton to Esperance need to take precautions, particularly those near salt marshes and seasonal wetlands in coastal areas.

Hot spots include Mandurah, Busselton and Dunsborough.

People in areas of mosquito activity are advised to avoid being outdoors around dawn and dusk, wear loose-fitting protective clothing and use personal insect repellents containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin.

Their homes should have correctly fitted insect screens.

The warning follows a marked increase in the number of cases of Ross River virus in November and early December as well as continued detection of the virus in mosquitoes collected at several South-West locations.

The last major outbreaks of the virus in WA saw more than 900 people contract the virus in 1999-2000 and 1300 people infected in 1995-96.

Health Department medical entomologist Mike Lindsay said the forecast in October of a likely epidemic of Ross River virus appeared to have been accurate.

"Higher rainfall and temperatures this spring have led to more mosquitoes and a higher risk of contracting the virus," Dr Lindsay said.

"The mosquito population is slowly declining with the onset of warmer, drier weather but a higher proportion of mosquitoes is infected with the virus compared with a month ago.

"The department strongly urges holidaymakers and residents of mosquito-prone areas of the South-West to avoid mosquito bites during the coming holiday season.

"We must not become complacent just because there are fewer mosquitoes around.

"The reality is that a large proportion of remaining mosquitoes are infected with the virus.

"There is no cure or vaccine for these debilitating diseases, so taking precautions to avoid being bitten is very important."

Dr Lindsay said there was also the risk that other species of mosquitoes - domestic mosquitoes - could carry the virus and he advised people to take precautions to avoid mosquitoes breeding in their backyard. For example do not have containers that could collect water around your house.

Ross River virus disease is notifiable under the Health Act which means doctors have to report any cases.

The only way to diagnose the virus properly is by having a blood test.

A spokesman for the WA Tourism Commission said the health warning would be circulated among its regional managers to pass on to visitors' centres in the South-West.
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Old Dec 17th 2003, 2:56 pm
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Ahem..excuse my ignorance, but what happens to you if you get this nasty sounding virus?
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Old Dec 17th 2003, 3:02 pm
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Default Re: Just when you thought it was safe to go out

Originally posted by Jirrupin

Ross River virus occurs when people are bitten by virus-carrying mosquitoes and develop fever, headaches, rashes and painful and swollen joints resembling arthritis.

There is no vaccine or cure and symptoms can linger for several months or even years.

Arrghh!

This is terrible!

I think my friends sister had this a few years ago!
She was in hospital, and seriously ill.
She lived in Bridgetown, in the southwest (not on the coast).
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Old Dec 17th 2003, 3:05 pm
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Originally posted by podgypossum
Ahem..excuse my ignorance, but what happens to you if you get this nasty sounding virus?
Hi PP,

I don't know more than I have read, but it sounds nasty. I have already been bitten twice and the huge red marks are taking days to go down and I think I am at risk of long term scarring So this epidemic sounds a bit scary.

bit more info:
What are the symptoms of these diseases? Pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints, especially in the morning. Sometimes there's a rash and flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills. A person may feel so tired, weak or just generally "down" that it affects work or schoolwork.

The unusual thing about these illnesses is that although the symptoms can go away, some of them such as aches, pains, and stiffness may continue for weeks or months. Fortunately, symptoms get milder and eventually the person makes a full recovery with no after effects.
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Old Dec 17th 2003, 3:17 pm
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Originally posted by Jirrupin
Hi PP,

I don't know more than I have read, but it sounds nasty. I have already been bitten twice and the huge red marks are taking days to go down and I think I am at risk of long term scarring So this epidemic sounds a bit scary.

bit more info:
What are the symptoms of these diseases? Pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints, especially in the morning. Sometimes there's a rash and flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills. A person may feel so tired, weak or just generally "down" that it affects work or schoolwork.

The unusual thing about these illnesses is that although the symptoms can go away, some of them such as aches, pains, and stiffness may continue for weeks or months. Fortunately, symptoms get milder and eventually the person makes a full recovery with no after effects.
Well those symptoms just about cover most mornings for me!!!
Argh! Can you get it in Yorkshire?
Trent River Virus......watch out Scutter, we could be next!!!!!!

sue
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Old Dec 17th 2003, 11:44 pm
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LMAO Sue...i was thinking the same thing!!

Mozzie bites can do some serious scarring Jirrupin. Both my arms are badly scarred from infected mozzie bites in NZ last year. They are that bad that a patient at the rehab unit i worked on once asked me if i got hte scars from stubbing out cigarettes on my arms!!... errrr......noooooooo
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Old Dec 17th 2003, 11:51 pm
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A bit like in the USA where they have the nile virus thingy which you get from mossies

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