Ross River Virus: Thousands of Queenslanders at risk as mosquito numbers soar

The population of mosquitoes has exploded in one state with thousands of Aussies set to be infected with a horror virus as a result.

Mosquito numbers in Queensland are the worst they’ve been in ten years, thanks to wet weather.

The number of mosquitoes carrying the Ross River Virus is thought to have surged, sparking fears that thousands of Queenslanders are set to be infected in weeks.

The virus causes fever, swollen and painful joints and a rash. There is no vaccine.

While most people recover in a matter of weeks, some experience pain and fatigue for months.

The last time mosquito numbers were this bad was in 2019/20 when more than 3,000 people were infected with the virus, the ABC reports.

Of the 700 insects tested in recent weeks across the state, 31 returned positive results for Ross River Virus.

Areas believed to be most at risk include Brisbane, Bundaberg, the Banana Shire, Gold Coast, Fraser Coast, Livingston Shire Mackay, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer John Gerrard said he expected cases of Ross River Virus to soar.

“The confirmed positive traps that we have detected in the last three weeks is greater than the total number seen during the 2019-20 summer period when we had a major epidemic of Ross River virus across Queensland,” he said.

“In that epidemic, we saw 3,381 Queenslanders infected.

“I suspect it’s going to be all over Queensland in large numbers in the coming weeks.”

Dr Gerard said the virus so far had only been found in mosquitoes.

“We aren’t seeing human infections yet, but it’s pretty easy to predict that in the next few weeks, we’re going to see human cases,” he said.

“It has an incubation period of about two weeks.”

In Gold Coast, the council is spraying problem areas in a bid to stop the spread of the virus in its tracks.

Its war on mosquitoes and their larvae will cost around $1 million but City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate says it’s worth the expense.

“We’ll continue to keep fighting the larvae and misting the mosquitoes because this has been the worst case of mosquito outbursts in the last 10 years,” Cr Tate said.

“Preventing an outburst of [Ross River Virus] is money well spent and we’ll review the budget if we have to reposition it from our disaster budget.”

Queenslanders have been urged to try and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using repellent and wearing long sleeves. They are also advised to avoid going outside at times when there are more mosquitoes flying around.

Originally published as Ross River Virus: Thousands of Queenslanders at risk as mosquito numbers soar