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Mosquito outbreak sparks untreatable virus fears

Article image for Mosquito outbreak sparks untreatable virus fears

A sudden jump in mosquito populations has Sydney health experts fearing a Ross River virus outbreak.

The most common symptoms of the virus are flu-like, including fatigue, fever, chills, headaches, and aches and pains in the muscles and joints.

While the majority of those infected recover completely in a few weeks, some experience months of chronic fatigue.

NSW Health Pathology mosquito researcher Dr Cameron Webb told Deborah Knight Ross River fever is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the country.

“We’re seeing it detected in many areas of coastal NSW in recent weeks.

“It’s very unusual for this time of the year – we’re expecting mosquitoes to have disappeared by now.”

There’s no treatment for Ross River virus, and the best way to avoid contracting it is to avoid getting bitten.

Dr Webb recommended Sydneysiders reconsider exercising in bushland and wetlands during dawn and dusk, and apply repellent thoroughly.

Government spraying programs aren’t a complete solution either, he said.

“It’s a complicated issue, because mosquito control does work in some areas, but it doesn’t work everywhere.

“One of the challenges is that even in Sydney we have dozens and dozens of different types of mosquitoes, and they’re found in lots of different types of environments.”

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