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Barmah Forest virus

3-minute read

Key facts

  • Barmah Forest virus disease is an illness transmitted by mosquitoes from animals to humans.
  • Symptoms include fever, headache and swollen joints. Most people get better in a few weeks.
  • The best way to prevent Barmah Forest virus is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

What is Barmah Forest virus?

Barmah Forest virus disease is an illness transmitted by mosquitoes from animals to humans. It is only found in Australia and occurs throughout most regions particularly around inland waterways and coastal regions. An infection by the virus is not fatal and people who contract this illness recover.

What are the symptoms of Barmah Forest virus?

Symptoms of Barmah Forest virus infection include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • joint pain (may last more than 6 months)
  • swollen joints
  • muscle tenderness
  • rashes (mainly on the trunk or limbs)
  • swollen lymph glands

Some people (particularly children) may show no symptoms.

How is Barmah Forest virus treated?

A blood test is needed to confirm you have Barmah Forest virus. Treatment involves managing the symptoms. Medicine is not always necessary.

Most people get better in a few weeks, but some people may have symptoms like joint pain, tiredness and muscle tenderness for 6 months or more.

Can Barmah Forest virus be prevented?

To protect yourself from Barmah Forest virus, you need to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

To lessen your chance of being bitten by mosquitoes (as well as midges), cover up as much skin as possible and stay inside in the early morning or at dusk. Screen living areas, and make sure you use an insect repellent when you are outside and there are mosquitoes around.

Information on staying safe around mosquitoes can be found on the Queensland Health website.

More information


SA Health (Barmah Forest virus infection - including symptoms, treatment and prevention), Queensland Health (Barmah Forest virus)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2020

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