Dr Conroy discusses Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus rates for the Wide Bay region.
Dr Conroy discusses Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus rates for the Wide Bay region.

How COVID fears may have impacted mozzi virus cases

AS the region records more than 100 mosquito borne virus notifications this year to date, it's possible that COVID-19 awareness may have contributed to increased testing when experiencing fever-like symptoms.

Wide Bay Public Health Physician Dr Niall Conroy said so far for both Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus there had been 20 notifications and 111 notifications respectively - which is consistent with the 5-year mean for both Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus of 19 and 124.2 respectively.

While this year's virus rates remain on par with the region's five-year average, Dr Conroy said there was a rise in notifications through the later half of April and the first half of May.

"This rise could be due to the rainfall during that period and more people exposing themselves to mosquitoes when social distancing restrictions were relaxed around the Mother's Day weekend," he said.

"Another possible cause is that some of the fever-like symptoms of both viruses may lead people to seek out COVID-19 testing and presenting to medical provider.

This would lead to positive tests for the mosquito-borne viruses.

Despite that rise for a few weeks, the year-to-date number has shown no overall increase."

Last year's Wide Bay annual totals for Ross River were 81 and 11 for Barmah Forest virus.

Dr Conroy said the viruses were traditionally seasonal diseases which peak most notably between February and May, however, there may be unexpected numbers of notifications after a period of rainfall and more so when short rainfall occurs after prolonged drought.

He said there was no discernible pattern nor areas of concern within the Wide Bay region regarding the number of notifications.

"The number of notifications year-to-date are uniform week to week throughout the Wide Bay region," Dr Conroy said.

"The best prevention is to take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes including checking the home regularly for potential breeding areas and ensuring any uncovered water containers are emptied regularly."

 

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