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Barwon Health / Barwon South West Public Health Unit

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Barwon South West Public Health Unit issues mosquito warning

Monday, 27 March 2023

A local victim of Ross River virus has shared their alarming experience as experts warn people to avoid mosquitoes over this long weekend.Addy Wes

Wes Cusworth believes he never returned to peak fitness after contracting Ross River virus, as experts warn people to protect themselves from mosquito-borne disease.

Back in December 2000 Mr Cusworth, who was living in Modewarre at the time, was swarmed by mosquitoes following a deluge of rain.

“I started to progressively feel really unwell,” the 58-year-old said.

His ability to concentrate diminished and hestruggled with “incredible fatigue” and pain.

Mr Cusworth, who now lives in Armstrong Creek, said he was bedridden for weeks.

At the time, he was working as a teacher, and when he returned for term one he found it “really difficult” and felt he was in “survival mode”.

“I don’t think I’ve ever returned to peak fitness. I was really fit and healthy, living a very active lifestyle … I’ve never been able to return to that level since,” he said.

Greater Geelong has recorded five cases of Ross River virus so far this year, according to health department data.

The Barwon South West public health unit is urging people travelling or camping over upcoming public holidays, like Labour Day and during the Easter period, to protect themselves.

The unit said there were five main mosquito-borne viruses of concern in Victoria, including Murray Valley encephalitis and Ross River virus.

Director Eugene Athan said warm and wet weather could mean more mosquito biting and breeding.

“Some of these diseases are very serious and can cause long term illness and in some cases death,” he said.

“If you are travelling or camping over Easter, especially to northern Victoria or regional NSW, I encourage people to take extra precaution when travelling to areas near rivers and lakes.

“Your only protection against mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry is to avoid mozzie bites.”

Mr Cusworth warned people not to treat mosquito-borne disease lightly.

“The reality is it might have long standing ramifications,” he said.

Recently the health department warned there had been three confirmed Murray Valley encephalitis cases in Victoria this mosquito season, with two deaths.

Prior to this, the last human cases of Murray Valley encephalitis were detected in Victoria in 1974.

Murray Valley encephalitis virus and West Nile (Kunjin) virus have been detected in mosquitoes in several local government areas in northern Victoria this mosquito season.

People are reminded to take precautions including wearing long, loose-fitting clothing; use mosquito repellents containing Picaridin or DEET; limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about; remove stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed around your home or campsite; make sure accommodation is fitted with mosquito netting or screens; and use measures like mosquito coils or plug-in repellent when outdoors.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Geelong Advertiser

STORY: Courtesy of Tamara McDonald/Geelong Advertiser.