Ross River tally doubles in less than a month

January 21, 2021 BY

A mosquito-borne disease has exploded across the Greater Geelong and Surf Coast regions with the tally already exceeding last year's total. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

ROSS River cases have more than doubled this month causing health officials to voice their concerns for the region.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson has confirmed since December 6 there has been 50 infected residents across the Surf Coast Shire and 44 in the Greater Geelong region.

Earlier this month it was reported that the Surf Coast had eight cases of the mosquito-borne disease while the City of Geelong had five.

The cooler, wet summer has created the ideal conditions for the virus with expectations that cases will continue to increase.

This year’s recent surge exceeds last year’s annual tally of 18 and 16 cases reported in the Surf Coast and Geelong areas, respectively.

Ocean Grove woman Ral Turner said she began to lose mobility before her Ross River case was confirmed late last year.

Ms Turner had been experiencing extreme joint pain and fatigue but said she never considered the virus until her results came in.

“I live in a two-storey house and I couldn’t get up and down the stairs,” she said.

“I don’t even remember getting bitten or ever being itchy.”

Despite having a high pain-tolerance, Ms Turner has said she is in constant pain in her feet, hips, wrists and left thumb.

“I was naïve to this so I am glad there is more awareness now,” she said.

Over the Christmas period an advisory was issued following the confirmation that case numbers were on the rise which have since exploded as more people head to the infected areas.

Last month the Deputy Chief Health Officer (Communicable Diseases), Dr Annaliese van Diemen, confirmed the virus had been detected among mosquitos located in Anglesea.

“As COVID-19 restrictions ease, there are greater opportunities to travel around Victoria and enjoy increased outdoor activity,” she said.

“Taking measures to avoid mosquito bites is therefore a critical step to protect against diseases.”

The virus, which is typically detected by joint pain and fatigue, can cause serious illness with symptoms appearing between three to 21 days after the initial bite.

Department of Infectious Diseases director, Professor Eugene Athan said people need to make a conscious effort to stay protected from mosquitos when out and about across these areas.

“People should limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitos are about, wear light-coloured, loose fitting clothes, and use effective mosquito repellents containing DEET or Picaridin,” he said.

If you are showing symptoms of Ross River Virus, you are urged to contact your GP immediately.

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