Publication Details

V. J. Westley-Wise, J. R. Beard, T. J. Sladden, T. M. Dunn & J. Simpson, "Ross River virus infection on the North Coast of New South Wales", Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 20 1 (1996) 87-92.


A retrospective follow‐up survey was undertaken of residents of the North Coast of New South Wales infected with Ross River virus in 1992. The aims of the study were to describe the epidemiology and acute symptomatology of Ross River virus infection, its natural history during the first 12 months of infection, and its effects on those infected. Questionnaires were distributed to both cases and their medical practitioners. Of 129 people infected, aged between six and 85 years, 81 (63 per cent) were male and 48 (37 per cent) were female. The peak age‐specific incidence was in the age group 50 to 59 years. The most common symptoms were arthralgia (95 per cent) and tiredness (91 per cent). Over 60 per cent took time off work. At 12 months follow‐up, over 50 per cent reported persistent arthralgia, 35 per cent reported persistent tiredness and 15 per cent were still unable to carry out their normal activities. The median duration of symptoms was in the range 7 to 12 months, and of incapacity was in the range five weeks to three months. There were some differences from previous reports of Ross River virus outbreaks, in the incidence of major symptoms and the duration of illness and incapacity. These are likely to be at least pardy due to inconsistent measurement methods. In this study, there were systematic differences between medical practitioners' and patients' estimates of periods of incapacity. Previous estimates of the direct economic costs and indirect human costs of infection based on data obtained from medical practitioners, although alarming, are almost certainly underestimates.