The number of cases diagnosed with Ross River virus has been steadily increasing, with more than 50 cases diagnosed since December. Another 10 cases have been reported in other parts of the territory. Furthermore, reports of another 50 diagnosed cases in Western Australia's south over the past three weeks has prompted reasons for concern among the medical community.
The worst mosquito plague to have occurred has been one that hit Darwin a decade ago that resulted in infection of nearly 36 local individuals.
In response to the above situation, the health officials have said that appropriate steps are being taken to restrict the spread of the virus such as extensive aerial spraying of insecticides and other mosquito kills. The pre-monsoon shower is believed to have created an ideal environment for insect breeding.
"The problem is that this sort of mosquito can fly up to 50 kilometers so they're coming from outside our control areas, so from the wider Howard River area and they're dispersing into the northern suburbs of Aarwin, so the worst affected areas are Karama, Leanyer and Casuarina coastal reserve," said Nina Kurucz, an entomologist.
The only way to protect against the disease is to stay covered in addition to the use of mosquito repellents due to non-availability of a vaccine to protect against the fast spreading disease, according to Dr Vicki Krause, Director, Centre for Disease Control. "Ross River virus is a virus you'd rather avoid - it causes fever, fatigue, often you get a rash, but it usually presents with painful swollen joints in the fingers, the wrists the ankles and the knees," she added.
With an increase in the mosquito population in Peel region (Western Australia), the number of cases reported from the areas has been accelerating. Reports of another form of mosquito-borne disease, called Barmah Forest virus (30) have created much panic amongst local community members.
The northern and inland areas are at particular risk due to increased chances of rain and flooding from Cyclone Clare. Residents of these areas have been urged to protect themselves against these highly contagious diseases.
"In most areas of the south-west, where there are still fairly substantial mosquito populations, we're advising people to treat those mosquitoes and potential disease carriers and to take appropriate precautions to avoid getting bitten," said Dr Mike Lindsay, spokesman for the Western Australian Health Department.