‘I’m walking like a 90-year-old’: Mum’s virus warning
A Belmont mum debilitated by Ross River virus is pleading with others to protect themselves after she contracted the mosquito-borne disease locally.
Angela Onyschko was diagnosed with the virus on Monday, after experiencing severe joint pain for several weeks.
Ms Onyschko, 42, said she was bitten by a mosquito at her Belmont home last month and began experiencing joint pain about a week later.
She said she believed she had acquired the virus locally as she has not left the region recently, while conditions have been ripe for mosquito breeding.
"I'm walking like a 90-year-old," Ms Onyschko said.
"You can't function."
Ms Onyschko said she was experiencing "the worst joint pain you could imagine".
"It's extreme pain and swelling. If I could describe it in one word, it's crippling," she said.
She said she believed the mosquito that infected her may have come from a creek near her home.
Her diagnosis comes after Victorian deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen issued a warning about mosquito-borne diseases late last month.
Dr van Diemen said Ross River virus has been detected in mosquitoes in the Gippsland Lakes area, while recent weather conditions were favourable to mosquito biting and breeding.
Barwon Health and Ms Onyschko have urged Geelong locals to don protection following the ideal conditions.
According to Department of Health and Human Services data, a single Ross River virus infection case has been recorded for Greater Geelong so far this year, and a total of four in 2019 in the municipality.
A drop came after a surge in cases in 2017, when 66 cases were recorded in Greater Geelong and 93 for the Surf Coast.
Barwon Health's department of infectious diseases director Eugene Athan saidrainfall combined with warm weather, as seen in 2017, creates ideal conditions for mosquito breeding and population surges.
The Surf Coast Shire last week warned mosquito numbers were on the rise following wet, mild winter and spring weather.
Prof Athan said all parts of Victoria where there were mosquitoes may carry a risk for Ross River virus infection, although the risk is greater in rural and regional Victoria.
"Ross River virus is the most common disease carried by mosquitoes and can cause joint
swelling and pain, fatigue and muscle aches," Prof Athan said.
"A rash and fever may also develop and symptoms may last for months.
"People should limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about, wear light-coloured,
loose fitting clothes, and use effective mosquito repellents containing DEET or picaridin."
Prof Athan said if anyone has symptoms or concerns, they should contact their GP for a blood test.
Originally published as 'I'm walking like a 90-year-old': Geelong mum's virus warning