Vic­tim leads fight on viruses

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - OPINION - Josh Zim­mer­man

SOUTH­ERN sub­urbs res­i­dent Ron­niet Or­lando is spear­head­ing a State Gov­ern­ment cam­paign en­cour­ag­ing West Aus­tralians to pro­tect them­selves from mos­quito-borne dis­eases.

Ms Or­lando is a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for the Fight the Bite cam­paign hav­ing spent more than 10 years bat­tling the de­bil­i­tat­ing symp­toms of Ross River virus.

She con­tracted the dis­ease from a mos­quito bite in Bun­bury in the mid-1990s and spent 18 months feel­ing like she had “been hit by a truck” be­fore fi­nally be­ing di­ag­nosed.

“Within a week or two I started de­vel­op­ing symp­toms; I had a rash and a split­ting headache and was bed-rid­den for sev­eral weeks,” she said.

“I thought it was menin­gi­tis to start with but doc­tors had no idea what the cause was.

“Ross River virus can be dif­fi­cult to di­ag­nose be­cause every­one has dif­fer­ent symp­toms and some peo­ple suf­fer more than oth­ers.”

Ms Or­lando said the dis­ease – which has no real cure – took an im­mense toll on her per­sonal life and that was partly what had mo­ti­vated her to try to raise aware­ness about the po­ten­tial dan­gers of mos­quito bites.

“The Health Depart­ment some­times gives my phone num­ber out to peo­ple who have just found out they have Ross River virus,” she said.

“Peo­ple usu­ally only ring once and they just need re­as­sur­ance that they’re not go­ing crazy and that there is light at the end of the tun­nel be­cause the de­pres­sion that of­ten comes with the lethargy and chronic fa­tigue can be the hard­est to deal with.” Ron­niet Or­lando bat­tled the symp­toms of Ross River Virus for more than 10 years. d462112 THE Depart­ment of Health has con­firmed de­tec­tions of Ross River virus (RRV) and Barmah Forest virus (BFV) in mos­qui­toes in the Perth met­ro­pol­i­tan area.

Man­ag­ing sci­en­tist of en­vi­ron­men­tal health haz­ards Michael Lind­say said mosquito­borne dis­eases were clearly ac­tive in the South-West re­gion, in line with the Depart­ment’s pre­dic­tions for an in­creased risk this sea­son.

“Mos­quito man­age­ment is be­ing un­der­taken by lo­cal gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Depart­ment of Health in ar­eas with a recog­nised risk,” he said.

“How­ever, it is not re­al­is­tic to rely on mos­quito man­age­ment pro­grams alone to con­trol mos­qui­toes; in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing in or trav­el­ling to the re­gion also need to take their own pre­cau­tions to avoid mos­quito bites.”

Symp­toms of RRV and BFV in­clude painful or swollen joints, sore mus­cles, skin rashes, fever, fa­tigue and headaches.

Symp­toms can last for weeks or months and the only way to di­ag­nose the viruses is by hav­ing a spe­cific blood test.

There is no vac­cine or spe­cific treat­ment for RRV or BFV.

Pic­ture: Jon Hew­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.