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Ross River Virus and Joint Pain

On 15 Feb 2017 the Chief Health Officer for Victoria, Professor Charles Guest issued a Health Advisory on mosquitos and Ross River Virus in response to an increase in the number of reported cases to 1012 since January 1 this year, including 6 cases in metropolitan Melbourne. The recent rain combined with the warm weather have provided optimal breeding conditions for the mosquitos that transmit the disease. Mostly the disease is found in the London-Mallee and Hume regions along inland waterways.

Ross River Virus disease may present to a sports medicine centre as one of the major features of the illness is arthritis or joint inflammation. The joints become painful, swollen and tender and the joints usually affected are wrists, knees, ankles and small joints of the hand often in a symmetrical pattern; this usually occurs on 3-11 days after infection and should be suspected after travel to an endemic area and developing an acute onset of symptoms.Other symptoms may include fatigue, headache, muscle aches, rash and lymph nodes in the neck.

In most people the illness is mild, and most recover completely within a year.

Diagnosis occurs via blood tests which may show a rising level of antibodies to the virus.

Treatment is symptomatic and may include rest, paracetamol, and anti-inflammatories.The disease may last for a prolonged period in many cases although often the symptoms fluctuate. There is no vaccine available for the disease.

If you have joint pain and inflammation and have traveled to a rural area particularly around waterways and high mosquito exposure you should mention this to your practitioner.

For information on prevention of infection and transmission please visit

For further information on the illness caused by Ross River please virus visit

To learn more about Dr. Andrew Jowett please visit his profile at

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