What is Ross River virus?
Ross River virus is a virus that is carried by mosquitoes. It can be found anywhere in Australia, but is more common in Queensland, Northern Territory and the Kimberly region in Western Australia between January and April.
Mosquitoes live in still water. Outbreaks of infection can occur when and where mosquitoes breed. That means after heavy rainfalls, when humidity is high and when tides are high.
What causes Ross River virus?
Ross River virus is spread when the bite of an infected mosquito allows the virus to enter your bloodstream. By the time symptoms occur, the virus has spread throughout your body.
Ross River diagnosis
Your doctor can diagnose Ross River virus by talking to you, examining you, and checking if you live in or have recently travelled to an area that is high risk for infection.
Blood tests can confirm a diagnosis of Ross River virus by measuring your levels of antibodies to the infection.
Ross River symptoms
Many people who have Ross River virus never develop symptoms. If symptoms appear, it can be anywhere from three days to three weeks after an infected mosquito bite.
The most common symptom is pain in the joints, mainly the fingers, toes, hands, feet, elbows and knees. Other symptoms include:
Symptoms usually ease up in 3 to 6 months. Visit your doctor if you are concerned or need relief from symptoms.
Ross River prevention
You can protect yourself against getting Ross River virus by:
- staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active
- using insect repellants
- covering up when outside, with light coloured clothing and covered footwear
- burning citronella candles and mosquito coils
- covering windows, doors, vents and other entrances with screens
- sleeping under a mosquito net.
If you make sure you don’t have pools of water around your house, that will reduce the number of mosquitoes.
Learn more about insect bites and how to prevent them.
Last reviewed: September 2015