Changing epidemiology of Ross River virus disease in South Australia

OBJECTIVE: To investigate changes in epidemiology and symptoms
of Ross River virus (RRV) disease in South Australia.

DESIGN:
Longitudinal questionnaire-based survey of notified cases from
one to 36 months after infection.

SUBJECTS: All patients with
recent serologically confirmed RRV infection notified to the
Communicable Disease Control Unit, South Australian Health
Commission, between 1 October 1992 and 30 June 1993.

OUTCOME
MEASURES: Sociodemographic data, source of infection, symptoms
and ability to carry out daily activities (at onset of
illness and at time of questionnaire, up to 36 months after
infection), symptom duration, economic impact of the illness,
cases recovery time, factors predictive of delayed recovery.

RESULTS: Information was obtained on the acute illness from
698 of the 821 subjects and at 15 months after infection from
436. At 15 months, 51% of respondents still had joint pain
and 45% had persistent tiredness and lethargy. Other common
symptoms included myalgia (34%), lymphadenopathy (25%),
headache (23%) and depression (22%). These symptoms were
still common 30 months after infection. Increasing age was
the only statistically significant predictor of delayed
recovery. Infections were acquired across the State, away
from previously recognised RRV-endemic areas.

CONCLUSIONS:
For many people, RRV disease is debilitating, with long term
symptoms similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome. The
geographic range of the infection has expanded in SA.

Selden SM, Cameron AS

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