Backpackers Health Care issues in Western Australia

Ross River virus (RRV) and Barmah Forest virus (BFV) are the two most common mosquito-borne viruses in Western Australia and can cause severe symptoms in humans.

How do you catch these viruses?

In nature, RRV and BFV are sent back and forth between animals and mosquitoes. People can only catch these viruses after being bitten by an infected mosquito. RRV and BFV cannot be caught on direct contact with another person or another animal.

About 1 in 3 people will develop symptoms after being bitten by an infected mosquito, making it important to reduce the risk when possible.

When do symptoms appear?

For both viruses, the time between getting bitten and getting sick is normally 7 to 14 days. However, it can vary from just 3 days to a maximum of 3 weeks.

What are the symptoms?

People suffering from RRV or BFV diseases can experience a wide range of symptoms that both viruses have in common. Blood tests are used to diagnose the viruses.

The symptoms and severity vary from person to person, but can be:

  • Painful and/or swollen joints.
  • muscle strain
  • painful tendons
  • skin rash (although these are more common in BFV disease)
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • a headache
  • swollen lymph nodes.

We know that delivering improved access to healthcare for all Western Australians can only be achieved by working with all levels of local, regional and federal governments and by working together with top authorities and agencies to achieve this change together.


The main obstacles to increasing this acceptance are the ongoing challenges of internet connectivity and reliability in more rural and remote areas and the mismatch between patient-driven demand for new technologies and Medicare funding.


Through meaningful engagement and collaboration, we already see positive results in primary health care, with a consistent government-wide approach by delivering services to priority health areas, including Aboriginal health, mental health and alcohol, and other drug treatment services.

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