Infections that last

August 2009

FocusInfections that last

Ross River virus

Volume 38, No.8, August 2009 Pages 586-589

Bridget Barber

Justin T Denholm

Denis Spelman


Ross River virus is Australia’s most common and widespread arbovirus. It causes epidemic polyarthritis and is associated with significant morbidity and cost to society.


This article aims to increase clinicians’ awareness of the epidemiological and clinical features of Ross River virus and provide information regarding prevention, diagnosis and management.


Ross River virus occurs throughout Australia and numerous outbreaks have occurred. Most cases occur in northern Australia during the wet season, and individuals with high exposure to mosquitoes are most at risk. Arthralgia is the most common presenting symptom and is usually associated with rash, fever and lethargy. No treatment alters the course of the illness, although patients may benefit from simple analgesics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Symptoms usually resolve within 6 months. Personal protective measures against mosquitoes are an important prevention strategy.

Ross River virus (RRV) is a mosquito transmitted alphavirus that causes epidemic polyarthritis and arthralgias, with about half of patients also experiencing fever and rash. It is Australia’s most common arbovirus with about 5000 cases notified every year (Figure 1).1

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