Qld experiencing big surge of Ross River fever cases this year
Qld experiencing big surge of Ross River fever cases this year

Warning as Ross River fever spikes in Queensland

QUEENSLAND is experiencing a bad year for Ross River fever with recorded cases up more than a third so far this year compared to the average for the past five years.

Data provided by Queensland Health shows 3258 people have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus across the state in 2020 - 833 more than the 2015-2019 mean of 2425 at this time of the year.

Gold Coast University Hospital emergency doctor Hayley Frieslich is one of 251 known cases of the energy sapping virus on the Gold Coast this year.

Dr Frieslich, in her early 40s, wanted to raise awareness about the virus, and its debilitating effects, after developing headaches, sore muscles and sore joints over a fortnight from early last month.

"After two weeks of just feeling really lousy, I started to have some quite high temperatures," she said.

Blood tests ordered by her general practitioner showed she had Ross River fever.

Although Dr Frieslich has returned to work, Gold Coast public health physician Vicki Slinko said that in some people, symptoms of Ross River fever could continue for up to a year.

"It often affects the joints of your fingers, you can have difficulty writing, that's an issue at work, all those sorts of things," Dr Slinko said.

"It can be a significant problem. People can be unwell for quite a significant period of time."

Dr Frieslich urged Queenslanders to be vigilant about avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes.

"There is no treatment for this," she said.

"The best way to treat it is to prevent getting it. Be aware in those higher times of getting bitten, which is dawn and dusk, and use repellents, wear your long-sleeve clothing and think about your children as well."

Dr Slinko also urged Queenslanders to use mosquito lanterns, coils or plug-in repellent devices when at home to keep mosquitoes at bay.

She said they should also ensure their fly screens and screens over water tanks were in good order.

With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a La Nina weather pattern this Summer, which could bring above-average rainfalls, Dr Slinko said: "It's a timely reminder for people to start thinking about mozzies and protecting themselves from them."

 

Originally published as Warning as Ross River fever spikes in Queensland

Gold Coast University Hospital emergency doctor Hayley Frieslich, who was recently diagnosed with Ross River fever. Photo: Liam Kidston.
Gold Coast University Hospital emergency doctor Hayley Frieslich, who was recently diagnosed with Ross River fever. Photo: Liam Kidston.


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