Stawell health professionals have warned residents to protect themselves against the mosquito-borne disease Ross River virus, after confirmed cases in other parts of Victoria.
The disease could cause joint swelling, fatigue and muscle aches, which could persist for many months.
Stawell Regional Health chief executive Liz McCourt said the disease was something Grampians health professionals were keeping an eye on, and it was crucial people suffering from symptoms had immediate blood tests.
“If you have had episodes of being bitten by mosquitoes and begun experiencing flu-like symptoms then you need to act immediately,” she said.
“Ross River and other mosquito related diseases like Barmah Forest virus and Murray Valley encephalitis are quite debilitating and it is pretty horrible to have happen to you.
“Wear long and loose fitting clothes if mosquitoes are around and carry repellent on you.”
Ms McCourt also said mosquito numbers had dropped since the wet spring months, but seemed to still be prominent around the area’s lakes and rivers.
“It may seem like the mosquitoes have gone but they have laid their eggs on the water so they are still lurking around ready to get you if you are not protected,” she said.
“People around Cato Park or those boating and fishing at Lake Fyans or Lonsdale are most at risk and need to listen to the dangers and warnings on how to avoid the disease.”
Covering exposed skin, using repellents containing DEET or picaridin, limiting outdoor activity when mosquito numbers were high and sleeping under nets treated with insecticides if you did not have flywire screens on windows were recommended to avoid the virus.
Ms McCourt also said pet owners needed to be mindful about protecting their animals.
“Pets can also pick it up so people need to be aware of what they can do to protect their pets from the virus,” she said.
“I know a number of horse owners who have started doing their best to protect and cover up their horses.”
It could take three to nine days for symptoms of Ross River virus to occur after exposure, and occasionally up to 21 days.
The virus was detected in mosquitoes around Mildura, Moira and Barmah Forest.
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