40 struck down by debilitating disease in Gympie surge
DEBILITATING mosquito-borne virus cases have surged in the Gympie region, with more than 40 residents struck down this year.
Queensland Health data for the Sunshine Coast and Gympie Hospital and Health Service shows cases of Ross River and Barmah Forest virus are up considerably on the five-year average.
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In the Gympie council area, there have been 38 cases of Ross River virus recorded this year, compared with the five-year average of 25.
There have also been six cases of Barmah Forest virus recorded this year, compared with the five-year average of zero to three.
The increase comes on top of a global pandemic.
Neither disease is fatal.
However, the conditions can last more than a week and can range from mild to serious, and may include fever, tiredness and joint or muscle pain.
Sunshine Coast public health physician Virginia McLaughlin said it was important for families to protect themselves from the thirsty pests.
“We are seeing more cases locally of both Ross River and Barmah Forest and this is common for autumn,” Dr McLaughlin said.
“Peak mosquito breeding season on the Coast is November to March. Recent warmer weather, rain and high tides can all contribute to there being more mosquitoes.
“The numbers of BFV cases reported for locals so far this year are also higher than recent years. Numbers of RRV cases are similar to recent years.”
Dr Rosie Muller, public health physician, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service said:
“It is very important for everyone to protect themselves against mosquito bites. Simple steps to reduce you and your family’s risk of being bitten include:
“• Remaining vigilant at all times of the day (as different disease-carrying mosquitoes can bite at different times) but especially at dawn and dusk on the Sunshine Coast.
“• Wearing long, loose, light-coloured clothing.
- Using an insect repellent than contains DEET or picaridin. Read and follow all directions and precautions on the mosquito repellent product label, especially for infants.
“• Emptying any containers holding water around the house at least weekly.
“• Installing and maintaining insect screens on all doors and windows at home.
“Symptoms of mosquito-borne illness can range from mild to serious, and may include fever, tiredness, and joint or muscle pain.
“Please be aware also that under the Public Health Act 2005, you could be fined by your local council if your home or yard promotes the breeding of mosquitoes.
For more information visit: https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/all/prevention/mosquito-borne/index.html