Ross River Virus Outbreak in Queensland

The world’s nastiest and most prolific killer critter is at it again.

MosquitoA quick search in Google for “Ross River virus outbreak” will soon reveal Queensland currently has a problem:

  • Mosquito outbreak triples Ross River virus cases – Brisbane Times Feb 12, 2015
  • Ross River virus outbreak in south-east Queensland – ABC Feb 23, 2015
  • Rain brings on worst Ross River Fever outbreak in years – Sunshine Coast Daily 6 days ago
  • Ross River Fever outbreak could include Gympie region – Gympie Times 4 days ago
  • Number of Ross River virus cases on the Gold Coast explode – Courier Mail Feb 23, 2015
  • Cairns in grip of Ross River fever concern as cases spike – Cairns Post Feb 13, 2015
  • Spike in Ross River fever cases – Townsville Bulletin Feb 23, 2015

From Gympie to Brisbane, from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, from Townsville to Cairns, Queensland is certainly in the grip of a current Ross River virus (RRV) outbreak. The accompanying quotes do not make comfortable reading…

Ross River virus infections in Queensland have more than tripled…” “Gympie and the Sunshine Coast is in the grip of the worst Ross River virus outbreak in years…” ” …outbreak is likely to continue as the wet season rolls on, leading to hundreds, if not thousands, of new cases.

So far this year more than 1000 cases have been reported here in Queensland, the average for the same period over the last five years is just 190. Yes, it’s an outbreak for sure.

What is Ross River virus?

As you have no doubt gathered, Ross River virus is a disease spread by mosquitoes and no doubt you also know that mosquitoes breed in water. So the rains dumped on us by the recent Tropical Cyclone Marcia are behind this latest outbreak.

Symptoms of Ross River virus include:

  • mosquitoSwollen joints including wrists, knees, ankles, fingers and toes
  • Rash
  • Nausea, headache, backache and muscle aches are also common
  • An enlargement of the lymph nodes, especially in the groin or the armpit
  • Debilitating lethargy and fatigue
  • Pins and needles and tenderness on hands and feet
  • Strangely, although it’s often referred to as Ross River fever, fever is usually not present
  • Even stranger, for some people, particularly children, there may be no symptoms at all

There is no treatment or cure, just bed rest, so prevention is the best defence. I’ve spoken many times about the pesky mosquito here on this website, please check out the following posts to find out more about the nauseating mozzie and also see what you can do to prevent being bitten by this nasty little critter:

The good news about Ross River virus

Most people recover within about six weeks. Some people take longer, but the vast majority completely recover within a year. It is also now thought that our bodies build up an immune response to RRV which may well prevent you from getting the disease again for the rest of your life.

The bad news about Ross River virus

It’s painful; it can be very painful from what I’ve heard. 10 out of 10 pain and excruciating pain has been mentioned by those who have had this disease.

Ross River virus AND mosquitoes are most certainly Australian Bad Things. Thanks Marcia!

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Betsi March 19, 2015, 2:00 pm |

    Hi Bob,
    They have actually already developed a vaccine against RRV with Baxter.
    The Australian government just don’t want to spend money on producing it!
    Hard to believe!

    Cheers, Betsi

    • BobinOz March 19, 2015, 9:19 pm |

      Is that right? I suppose they don’t see it as a big enough problem, they might change their mind if we ever get a major outbreak. Not sure how major it has to be though, maybe this one is testing them, although in reality the numbers are still relatively small.

      Putting it into perspective, I’ve seen one news item about it and a couple of articles, but nobody is talking about it on the streets, are they? We are not all walking around scared of getting RRV.

      Instead of a vaccine though, a cure would be really nice 🙂

  • Karen March 18, 2015, 9:39 pm |

    Hi Bob, just out of curiosity… can pet snakes, birds and cats get Ross River Virus? My brother has snakes and birds and is saying one of his snakes has RRV . I’ve never heard of such a thing. My sister has the cats and I have a galah that’s being bothered by mozzies and would running an insect zapper really help with the mozzies? Do you have any insite on this or heard of animals being infected before with RRV?

    • BobinOz March 18, 2015, 10:01 pm |

      RRV can infect many animals including kangaroos, wallabies, possums, horses, bats as well as humans. Cats and dogs can get it as well, but they are what are called dead-end hosts. They can become infected, but they can’t reinfected other mosquitoes that feed on them.

      I’m not sure about snakes and birds though, which is unusual, because I pretty much know everything. Well, I say I know everything… anything I don’t know I get from Google.

      This is one that came from Google, I didn’t have a clue 🙂 see

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