Ross River fever: Why you really want to protect yourself against mozzies

Chris Tippett is unable to do much at all due to Ross River fever. Photo supplied
Chris Tippett is unable to do much at all due to Ross River fever. Photo supplied

Chris Tippett has had his whole world turned upside down by a mosquito bite.

The manager of the Manning Entertainment Centre on the NSW Mid-North Coast was diagnosed with Ross River fever in March this year, and it shows no sign of disappearing any time soon.

"It's probably the worst thing I've been through in my life," Chris says. "The persistence of it has really changed the way I have to live my life.

"I've always been really fit and active and healthy, and now I just feel like I've got the body of an old man. I've got no energy to do anything. The simple tasks, like keeping up with housework, have been really difficult."

The first three weeks after contracting the virus were the most agonising, Chris says, with waves of pain over his body lasting eight to 10 hours at a time.

"It just does your head in."

Now, five months on, Chris says he has constant pain in his legs and feet and a feeling of a feverish forehead. He also has pain concentrated in his neck and upper back.

"The pain radiates throughout your body like nothing else. It is all encompassing and you lose your concentration."

Any simple task means Chris will probably have to stay resting for the next day. Photo supplied

Any simple task means Chris will probably have to stay resting for the next day. Photo supplied

He has lost hundreds of hours of work, and lives on pain killers just to try and get through the day and night. Any simple activity wipes him out for the entire next day.

"I eat hundreds of paracetamol and ibuprofen to try and stay normal," he says.

As well as being physically debilitating, Ross River fever has also taken a toll on Chris's mental health.

"Because it's so persistent and it doesn't go away, it can be really demoralising."

Ross River fever is transmitted through mosquitoes that have bitten an infected animal. There is no cure for the virus, and the only treatment is to relieve symptoms with painkillers.

There is no vaccine against Ross River fever.

How to avoid being bitten

When outside cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.

Use an effective insect repellent on exposed skin. Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off with perspiration. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin.

Cover all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.

Clean up your backyard, mow lawns and remove all water-holding rubbish including tyres and containers. Fill pot plant bases with sand to avoid standing water.

More information about mosquito-borne infections is available on the NSW Health website.

This story Why you really want to protect yourself against mozzies first appeared on Manning River Times.