Ross River Virus: Mosquito Control Efforts Escalated in West Brisbane

Ross River Virus
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Queensland Health has issued an urgent warning about the rising number of cases of Ross River Virus infections in West Brisbane. Mosquito spraying activities will be conducted in at-risk areas like Brookfield, Pullenvale, Anstead, and Pinjarra Hills in the coming weeks.



In the period from 2001 to 2020, the average cumulative incidence in the Greater Brisbane area was approximately 70 cases per 10,000 people. This data highlights the ongoing challenge of Ross River Virus (RRV) infections and the critical need for effective prevention and awareness strategies. Further details on the study are available here.

Residents and visitors, especially in suburbs like Kenmore, Brookfield, Chelmer and Sherwood, are strongly advised to implement protective measures against mosquito bites, the primary means of virus transmission.

Enhanced Mosquito Control Measures Across Brisbane and the Gold Coast

South East Queensland has seen a surge in mosquito populations, with the recent combination of wet weather and high temperatures providing ideal conditions for these pests to thrive. This has led to an unprecedented increase in mosquito activity, compelling the Brisbane City Council to implement extensive control measures, treating up to 2,400 sites weekly. This represents a 140% increase over the usual mosquito management efforts, including seven aerial treatments in just the last nine weeks.

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Ross River Virus
Photo Credit: Pixabay

In Brisbane alone, efforts have focused on 136 out of 190 suburbs, with an additional 24 areas on the Gold Coast receiving attention. The Redland City Council has upped their aerial larviciding by 60%, marking the most significant campaign since the 2016-2017 period. Logan City, Sunshine Coast, and the Gold Coast councils have similarly expanded their control activities.

Recent data from Queensland Health has confirmed several cases of mosquito-transmitted diseases, with 29 instances of Ross River virus and three of dengue reported in the first three weeks of January alone.

About the Ross River Virus

Origin and Spread

Ross River Virus (RRV) is a mosquito-borne alphavirus that is endemic to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. The virus primarily spreads through the bite of infected mosquitoes, notably those in the Aedes and Culex genera, which are common in these regions.

Symptoms and Treatment

RRV infection can lead to a range of symptoms, from mild to debilitating. Common symptoms include polyarthritis, rash, fever, fatigue, and muscle pain. These symptoms can significantly affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities and, in some cases, can persist for months or even years. While there is no specific treatment for RRV, management of symptoms is possible through medication and physical therapy.

Epidemiology

The virus has shown a notable propensity for causing large outbreaks, particularly in coastal regions. The incidence of RRV infection varies seasonally and geographically, with the highest rates typically observed in areas with warmer climates and in proximity to bodies of water where mosquito populations thrive.

Prevention

Preventing RRV infection centres on controlling mosquito populations and minimising individual exposure to mosquito bites. Public health measures include community education on the use of insect repellent, the importance of wearing protective clothing, and the need to eliminate standing water around homes and communities to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

Global Health Perspective

RRV is considered a significant public health issue within its endemic regions. With climate change and increasing global travel, there is a potential for RRV to expand its geographical reach, making it a subject of interest for global health monitoring and research.



Call for Personal Protective Measures

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard has emphasised the importance of personal protection against mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. With the potential for any mosquito bite to transmit Ross River Virus, increased mosquito activity elevates the risk of infection. Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day, though some species are more active during twilight hours.

To reduce the risk of mosquito bites, it’s recommended to:

  • Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dusk and dawn.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus regularly.
  • Wear loose, light-coloured clothing that covers arms, legs, and feet to minimize skin exposure

Published 13-Feb-2024