What are the diseases spread by mosquitoes? Part 4: Barmah Forest virus

Barmah Forest virus (BFV) is an illness transmitted by mosquitoes and only found in Australia. As with all mosquito-borne viruses, the mosquito may have contracted the virus from infected marsupials particularly possums, kangaroos and wallabies or from infected humans.

The virus can only be spread via mosquitoes and cannot be passed directly between humans.

The good news is if you are bitten by a mosquito and are infected by the virus it is not fatal and people who contract this illness recover.

When are you most likely to be infected with Barmah Forest virus?
Most human cases occur during March and April when a higher proportion of mosquitoes carry the virus. This does vary year-to-year though depending on the weather conditions (warm, wet conditions encourage the breeding of mosquitoes).

What are the symptoms and treatment for Barmah Forest virus?
Symptoms of Barmah Forest virus include fever, headache, tiredness, joint pain, swollen joints, muscle tenderness and a rash, usually on the trunk or limbs. The rash usually lasts for 7 - 10 days. The symptom are similar symptoms to Ross River virus. Some people (particularly infected children) may show no symptoms.

You will need a blood test to confirm you have Barmah Forest virus. Treatment involves managing the symptoms and medicine is not always necessary.

How long does recovery take for Barmah Forest virus?
Most people get better in a few weeks, but some people may have symptoms like joint pain, tiredness and muscle tenderness for 6 months or more.

Prevention against Barmah Forest virus
To protect yourself from Barmah Forest virus, you need to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

To lessen your chance of being bitten by mosquitoes (as well as midges), cover up as much skin as possible and stay inside in the early morning or at dusk. Screen living areas, and make sure you use an insect repellent when you are outside and there are mosquitoes around.

Part 1: Dengue Fever

Part 2: Ross River virus

Part 3: Murray Valley encephalitis

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