Gladstone man warns about Ross River Fever

A GLADSTONE man struck down by illness for several weeks is warning parents they risk putting their children through a pile of pain if they don't protect them against mosquitoes.

Dan Croston, 22, found out a few days ago he had contracted Ross River Fever, a mosquito-borne virus sweeping in record numbers through central Queensland this year.

In the past four weeks, 40 cases have been confirmed in the Central Queensland and Central West Hospital and Health Service districts.

Since the start of the year, there have been 74 cases - compared to an annual average of 24.3 between 2010-14.

Mr Croston said the flu-like disease was something he would hate to see children get unnecessarily.

"I had aches and pains in my legs, knees and ankles. I wasn't walking properly and I felt sick for longer than I usually would.

"I would hate for a young child to get this. They have to really spray up when they're outdoors because it wouldn't be nice for a young'un to get it."

The aches lasted three weeks and the flu-like symptoms for two.

He suspected he contracted the virus when he was putting up a shed in his backyard.

"It was about 6.30pm and they (mosquitoes) just come out of nowhere."

Dan Croston found out last Friday that he had Ross River Fever.
Dan Croston found out last Friday that he had Ross River Fever. Contributed

Mr Croston's doctor has told him the symptoms could last for 6-8 weeks and could return in the future.

He has also been told the disease is causing chronic arthritis in his legs.

"I've just had to do everything a lot slower. I've been bending over and walking around like an old man," he said.

He said from now on he would be more careful, by using more mosquito repellents.

Central Queensland Public Health Unit director Dr Kerryn Coleman said the spike in the disease was a result of increased mosquito numbers during the heavy rainfall between December and February.

BITS Medical Centre's Dr Gaston Boulanger described the Ross River virus as a "debilitating disease".

The symptoms were flu-like, Dr Boulanger said, but the virus caused joint pain and did not bring on a cough.

The virus can be diagnosed by a blood test.

"There's no treatment for it. All you can do is take anti-inflammatory, and have plenty of rest and tender loving care."

Though most people recover inside a year, some will have ongoing joint complaints.



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