State Government Must Step Up Ross River Virus Fight

State Government Must Step Up Ross River Virus Fight

Monday 31 December 2012

Ross River Virus is costing the West Australian community billions of dollars in lost productivity every year because of a failure by the State Government to take the issue seriously, the Australian Medical Association (WA) said today.
AMA (WA) President Dr Richard Choong called on the State Government to take over responsibility for handling Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses in WA, including responsibility for spraying.
“The State Government is gambling with the health of West Australians by not taking strong and decisive action in this area,” Dr Choong said.


A Health Department media statement today “reminding” people to avoid mosquito bites was ineffectual and neglected a real issue facing health in WA, he said.
While reported cases of RRV might be slightly down over recent months, better coordination was vital to ensure the battle was won.
Dr Choong said coordinated, strong and effective action was necessary to win the battle, not just warning people to avoid mosquitos.


“Telling people to somehow stay away from mosquitos would almost be humorous if it wasn’t such as serious health issue. We need to approach RRV and other mosquito born viruses as a health fight that we have to win.”


“There is no cure for Ross River Virus and it can seriously affect sufferers for up to six months. Some sufferers have weeks if not months off work, costing the community billions of dollars every year in lost productivity,” Dr Choong said.
“RRV and BFV are serious health issues but we are not approaching these viruses with the vigour or determination we have tackled other health issues.”


“As a GP seeing patients every day in the southern suburbs of Perth I can tell the Government that hardly a day passes when I don’t see a RRV sufferer,” Dr Choong said.


“The virus is definitely moving into Perth’s southern suburbs, which the Health Department has now admitted in the latest ‘let’s stay away from mosquito’ press statement,” Dr Choong.
“Leaving responsibility for spraying in the hands of local government and leaving coordination to an ad hoc committee is not good enough. Some local councils have done the job well, while others don’t have the same drive, determination or money available to tackle the issue strongly.”


“The Health Department must take over full control or RRV will continue to grow as a major health, indeed a major economic problem.”


Symptoms of Ross River include:

  • Rashes
  • Overwhelming tiredness
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain


“Other cities and nations have tackled mosquito borne diseases and it is not rocket science to do so,” he said.

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