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Ross River Fever virus is the most important representative of the alphavirus genus which is transmitted mainly by mosquitoes.

This virus is named after the Ross River in North Queensland. Other countries where the virus is found include Papua New Guinea, some parts of Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. The main hosts for this virus include the mosquito and the bird population, although it is thought that there may be other carriers. In Queensland the peak problem time for this ailment is December to June. The symptoms of the disease usually take approximately 10 days to develop after a person has become infected.


Ross River Fever symptoms include aching ankles, wrists, knees and elbows. There is a mild fever – adults and some patients exhibit a rash. Other symptoms may include nausea, diarrhoea, weakness and giddiness and may include severe headaches, impaired eyesight, inability to concentrate and depression. In some cases of Ross River Fever, an acute arthritic condition develops. This may cause pain and swelling in the joints of the body, however, there is usually no permanent damage to the joints which return to normal on recovery from the virus.

The acute and severe symptoms of Ross River Fever usually last from one to 24 weeks with 6 weeks being the average. Some 70% of sufferers recover fully from the virus within 12 months although the symptoms of fatigue and arthritis may continue for a longer period. It may be of interest to know that more women than men report with the illness. It is believed that once a patient has had the infection, there is a life-long immunity from the virus.


The following suggestions may help to reduce the risk of becoming infected with Ross River Fever – Wear protective clothing such as long sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors. This is especially important in the evenings when mosquitoes are most active.

  • Apply an insect repellent to all areas of exposed skin. Personal repellents can also be sprayed onto clothes. Repellent sprayed onto cotton clothing can remain effective for longer than when applied to the skin. The repellent may need to be reapplied where heavy perspiration, wiping and washing occur.
  • Avoid creating mosquito breeding grounds around the home e.g. pools of still water such as ponds and unused wading pools etc.
  • It is a good idea for people living in high risk areas to attach screens to the windows to keep mosquitoes out.
  • If you are in a place where there are many mosquitoes, mosquito nets should be used over the bed at night to avoid mosquito bite. The effectiveness of the nets can be enhanced for up to three months by treating the nets with a repellent or insecticide (permethrin). Permethrin is sold by produce or agricultural stores and should be used only in accordance with the instructions. It is now possible to purchase mosquito nets and T-shirts which are already impregnated with an insect repellent.
  • Electric mosquito vaporisers are plugged into a power point and help to repel mosquitoes by heating a liquid repellent or insecticide mat allowing the fumes to be released slowly into the air.
  • Mosquito coils can be used in well ventilated areas where power is not available. Lighted coils (containing 0.2% allethrin) are as effective as vaporisers. The insecticides are generally not considered to be harmful to humans, however it is recommended that babies and young children should not be exposed to the insecticides every night during the six to eight hours of sleep.
  • Cintronella Oil and Citronella Candles can be burned to help repel mosquitoes
  • Calanna have a range of other natural and alternative insect repellent products that are safe and effective for children and infants along with adults.

Treatment options

As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted to diagnose and treat this condition. Ask your Doctor about the latest advice about this ailment. See your Doctor on a regular basis and stay on any prescribed medication. Remember that there is no quick cure for Ross River Fever.

Diet tips

  • With this particular ailment it is best to have a diet which includes plenty of wholesome food. The meals should be easy to digest and highly nutritious e.g. fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low fat and low sugar.
  • The diet under these circumstances should be high in fish, particularly mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines and halibut. These fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and a series of experimental studies have indicated that the supplementation with dietary Fish Oil can help to decrease the severity of arthritis-type symptoms such as joint pain and swelling and helps to regulate the number or molecules in the body which cause inflammation.
  • Fresh salads are nutritional and easy to digest. A healthy and tasty dressing can be made by combining olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and herbs.
  • All cooked vegetables should be slightly under-done to retain the vitamin content.
  • Fresh home made soups and broths are a good idea to include in the diet as well.
  • Include four pieces of fresh fruit daily, to increase the vitamin content of the diet. Make your own juices at home using fruit or vegetables. It is best to have at least three glasses a day. Drink fresh water, filtered for preference, and have at least eight glasses a day which will help the body to eliminate waste matter.
  • See Calanna’s Community Kitchen for healthy meal ideas (insert link)

How vitamins/minerals/herbs can help Ross River fever

  • B group vitamins are used to strengthen the nervous system
  • Acidophilus supplies the friendly bacteria in the bowel which is necessary for correct elimination
  • Vitamin C is taken to help the immune system of the body
  • Vitamin B12 may be suggested to help any anaemia
  • Vitamin B1 (taken orally) may aid in repelling mosquitoes from the skin


Ask your local Calanna Pharmacist for advice.

  • Follow the diet hints.
  • Always use a mosquito repellent when in the open and particularly at dusk. One of the best mosquito repellents has the active ingredient, DEET. It should be remembered that when using a repellent, it must be kept away from eyes, wounds or irritated skin as well as children’s hands.
  • Wear clothing which covers as much of the body as possible.
  • Have adequate rest and relaxation.
  • Smoking can interfere with the body’s ability to combat infection. Ask your Calanna Pharmacist about the range of products available to help you stop smoking. See out quit smoking info (insert link)
  • Avoid stress as far as possible. Stress is thought to reduce the function of the immune system. See out info on managing stress (insert link)
  • Some anti-inflammatory tablets are available for any joint pains. Ask your Calanna Pharmacist for some suggestions.
  • Beware of taking repeated doses of aspirin to help relieve a high temperature as this may cause problems of the stomach and liver. Paracetamol and codeine might be suggested for severe headache and muscle pain.
  • Moderate alcohol intake as alcohol is also thought to reduce the function of the immune system.
  • If the diet is inadequate consider some supplements. Check out Calanna’s supplement range (insert link)


DISCLAIMER: This information is an educational aid only. It is not intended to replace medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, nurse or naturopath before following any medical regimen to see whether it is safe and effective for you.