85 people in Cairns diagnosed with Ross River virus

85 people in Cairns diagnosed with Ross River virus

MOSQUITOES have infected more than 130 Cairns residents with diseases this year.

NewsRegional analysis of Queensland health data shows 85 people living in the Cairns health district were diagnosed with Ross River virus in the past seven months. This is less than half the number of infections last year, when there were 185 Ross River notifications. There are also 11 cases of malaria, 24 of dengue fever and 11 of the Barmah Forest virus – all of which are spread by mosquitoes.

Across Queensland, there have been 1830 mozzie-borne virus infections reported in the past seven months, compared to 2462 for the whole of 2016. Cairns Regional Council runs major mozzie control programs aimed at reducing disease outbreaks. “Mosquito numbers are monitored by larval sampling or light traps,” a council spokeswoman said. “The light traps use a combination of dry ice (to produce carbon dioxide) and light to attract and capture mosquitoes. “The council has a routine fogging program and conducts daily treatments in mosquito hot spots throughout the Cairns region.”

Ross River virus is Australia’s main mosquito-borne disease. There is no vaccine and it costs the Australian economy more than $20 million a year to detect. The main treatment is anti-inflammatory medications.

Queensland virologist Professor John Aaskov said local infection rates could rise. He sai

d transmission in our region was most likely human-mosquito-human rather than animal-mosquito-human. “At the moment, the only way to stop the disease is to cover yourself up and some of the sunscreens have mosquito repellents in them,” he said.

Queensland Health urged those with symptoms to ask their doctor for a blood test. “Management of the illness generally involves treatment of the symptoms and most people recover without lasting effects,” a spokesman said. “It is also important to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes so your illness is not passed on to someone else.”

More Info

• Ross River virus is spread by mosquitoes from infected animals or humans.

• Children have less severe symptoms than adults.

• Symptoms take two to nine days to develop, can last for 40 weeks, and include fever, chills, muscle aches, rashes, fatigue, aching tendons, swollen lymph nodes, headaches and extreme joint pain.

• Once you have been infected you become immune.

Source: Professor John Aaskov, Queensland University of Technology

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