A RISE in the number of confirmed cases of Ross River virus in the Bass Coast Shire, at least half of them on Phillip Island, is heightening local concerns.
It was enough for Bass Coast Health to issue a warning earlier this week but there’s been s distinct lack of action from other authorities.
Despite issuing a health advice in December last year, warning health professionals and “the Victorian community residing in or travelling to the Surf Coast, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula”; the advice has not been updated for Phillip Island and surrounds.
Despite reports of nine confirmed cases in the area.
Phillip Island electrician and parttime surfboard shaper Dean Bould is one of them.
“Towards the end of November, I got up one morning and felt sore all over my body and joints,” he said this week.
“I didn’t worry too much and put it down to some work I had been doing in the days prior. I work as an electrician and was working down, underground and it was pretty hot.
“I put it down to that.
“After a few days I started to feel better and thought no more of it until Wednesday the next week. I stopped for lunch at work and looked down and noticed a rash on my knees and going up my legs.
“I started feeling pretty tired, so I went home early. I stopped off to check out the surf and started to go to sleep in the car.
“I’m old but not that old,” said the 53-year-old.
“Over the next few days, the rash spread across the rest of my body and my fingers and toes started to swell up, so I decided to go and see the doctor at the Cowes Hub because I knew then it was something unusual.
“It was a bit scary at that point, too,” said Dean.
“The doctor told me it was some sort of virus and told me to rest up for a few days and drink plenty of water. I didn’t go to work for a few days, and I started to feel better, but I was still tired and sore.
“I don’t have arthritis, but I imagine that’s what it feels like in the joints.
“After a while it started to disappear,”
Dean didn’t have a blood test straight away but after hearing that a plumber friend of his at Cape Woolamai tested positive, he did a bit of Google research and the symptoms matched up exactly.
“I decided to get a blood test out of curiosity and it came back positive for Ross River.
“I’m all good now but apparently you never get rid of it, it stays in the system, so whether it’ll flare up again, I don’t know.”
Dean feels sure he was bitten in his backyard at Cape Woolamai, not far from historic wetland locations at Newhaven, with Rhyll further away, but he has also worked at Kilcunda and at Wonthaggi.
“I get out in the garden a bit, so it was probably here at home, but I don’t think there’s been any more mosquitos than usual.”
When contacted for comment, the Bass Coast Shire Council acknowledged nothing had been done so far.
“The Mosquito Monitoring and Baiting Program is undertaken by Bass Coast Landcare Network with support from Council which treats known mosquito breeding areas around Bass Coast with a larvicide to minimise breeding,” said the shire.
“There has been no collection and submission of mosquitoes for identification purposes in the past five years,” they said.
Perhaps there should have been with the Department of Health and Humam Services issuing an Advisory note last December.
“When Council or Landcare are aware of any issues in the community, monitoring and baiting is carried out in those locations.”
Bass Coast Health issued the following advice:
“Periods of heavy rainfall and humid weather are ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes. Mosquito-borne diseases can make people ill and, in severe cases, can cause death.
Avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes:
“If you have any concerns about your health, see your GP or call NURSE-ON-CALL 1300 60 60 24.
Ross River virus is not a notifiable disease, according to the DHHS website.