Oz Having Its Share Of Severe
Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
From Patricia Doyle, PhD

Hello, Jeff - It appears that 2003 is going to be a bad year for mosquito borne illness around the world. Ross River Virus and its related virus, Barmah Forest Virus could be bad news for other countries if travelers to Australia trave back to their countries infected. Unlike West Nile Virus, Ross/Barmah Forest Viruses can cause high enough viraema in humans to enable humans to pass the infection to mosquitos.

Humans are NOT dead end hosts. Someone infected in Australia can step off a plane in L. A. and spread the infection to mosquito thereby causing an outbreak. (i.e. if the species of mosquitos that vector the disease are present.)

Patricia Doyle


A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sat 28 Jun 2003 From: ProMED-mail <> Source: The Sun Herald, Sat 29 Jun 2003 [edited]

Australia (NSW): Ross River Virus Alert for North Coast Tourists

A record outbreak of debilitating Ross River virus infection in holiday meccas on the New South Wales (NSW) Far North Coast has prompted a call for tourists to be warned that they may be endangering their health if they visit. Byron Shire deputy mayor Jan Barham, herself battling the mosquito-borne virus infection, said tourist operators and local government must tell visitors of the risks of holidaying in places such as Byron Bay and Tweed Heads. Her stand comes as health authorities reveal that cases of Ross River virus infection and Barmah Forest virus (a related virus) infection have reached alarming levels in the region. Northern Rivers Area Health Service has released figures showing 370 cases of the 2 viruses are being treated in the worst affected areas: Byron, Tweed and Lismore shires.

While not fatal, the fevers can hit sufferers with symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, leaving them listless, constantly tired and with ever-present aches and pains in the joints. Mosquitoes spread the viruses after feeding on an infected animal or person before moving on to another human. Councillor Barham, a member of the Greens party, said those who encouraged visitors to the region, including the local tourist industry and local government, had a duty of care to make sure tourists were not put at risk. "People come here for a great sub-tropical experience, but they can be left with a serious illness simply because they did not know they were at risk of catching it," she said. But, she said, if tourists were advised of the simple ways to prevent infection, the industry and the region's economy did not have to suffer. She foreshadowed draft council regulations making it compulsory for residential developments to have a buffer zone if they are built near wetlands or flood-prone land. Sein Lowry, managing director of the popular Byron Bay Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge, said his staff provided insect repellent, mosquito coils and incense sticks to keep the insects at bay. Another tourism operator, Jo-Ann Allchin of the Seahorses Riding Centre at Byron Bay, said all her clients were given insect repellent and were asked to wear long-sleeved tops and long pants.

Justine Waters, Director of Population Health at the area health service, said the North Coast regularly recorded more than one-third of the Ross River fever cases in NSW.

[By Jim O'Rourke]

-- ProMED-mail <>

[Ross River virus is associated with epidemics of benign polyarthritis often involving thousands of cases and is endemic in most coastal regions and along inland waterways in Australia and beyond. A variety of wild and domestic animals serve as reservoir hosts. Humans exhibit significant viraemia and the virus can be maintained in some epidemics in a human-mosquito-human transmission cycle. Different mosquito vectors are important according to habitat. The incubation period for Ross River virus infection is variable, from 2 to 21 days, and the illness is generally mild although painful arthritis may persist for weeks and occasionally months. Recovery is complete and there have been no fatalities.

_Ross River virus_ and _Barmah Forest virus_ are distinct virus species of the genus _Alphavirus_ of the family _Togaviridae_. Clinically, Barmah Forest virus causes a Ross River virus-like illness, which is generally milder with a higher frequency of rash and a lower frequency of arthralgias. The first epidemic of Barmah Forest virus disease occurred in the Northern Territory in 1992. - Mod.CP]

Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health



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