Public health

Ross River virus hits Melbourne suburbs

Melbourne residents are being warned to protect themselves from mosquito bites following a number of cases of Ross River fever in the suburbs.

The news that six Melbourne residents have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne disease reinforces warnings from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer earlier in the year.

A January alert from his office warned Ross River virus had been detected in mosquitoes around Mildura and Moira/Barmah Forest – ‘giving an early indication of increased risk of human disease for summer and early autumn’.

“Doctors should consider the possibility of mosquito-borne disease in patients presenting with a compatible illness, especially after travel to rural or regional Victoria,” the January 4 advisory said.

It also warned residents and visitors of the risk from other viruses such as the Barmah Forest virus and the virus responsible for the more serious Murray Valley encephalitis.

Doctors are advised to notify health authorities about Murray Valley encephalitis immediately on suspicion and Ross River or Barmah Forest on laboratory confirmation.

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