A Facebook page has been set up for Ross River virus sufferers to connect with each other after more than 50 people fell ill with the mosquito-borne disease on the Border this summer.
Albury mum Simone Vescio had the idea for the group, called Border Ross River Fever Support, and said it would be for people to offer emotional support as opposed to discussing medical advice.
“I didn’t know what the hell I had when I got it and I looked normal on the outside, but I was saying I seriously can’t walk, can’t get into a car, or grab and hold anything,” she said. “It’s important to realise you’re not alone and these are real symptoms that other people have.”
It comes as a Holbrook farmer has spoken out about his long-term symptoms after contracting Ross River virus in 2002, saying he has suffered intermittent joint pain for the last 15 years.
Hay contractor Brett Strong was working 10-hour days and playing footy on the weekends when he took a trip to Queensland in late 2002, where the virus thrives in tropical heat.
But a year later he was playing finals in Walbundrie and came down hard with a flu and could not get warm for days. He went to the doctor and said he was diagnosed with both glandular fever and Ross River virus.
"The doctor said if you don't go to bed for a month you're going to die," Mr Strong said.
The glandular fever faded away but Mr Strong thinks the Ross River virus did not. He calls them his "doughy" days, when joint pain in his leg flares up, making it difficult to work.
University of Melbourne academic Professor Bev Biggs, who specialises in infectious diseases, said although Mr Strong's chronic leg pain may be related to the virus, most symptoms clear up by about three to six months.
“Ross River virus can cause joint pain that can go on for a few months – whether it can continue as chronic pain for years is uncertain,” she said. “Usually we think patients eventually get completely better.
“The pain may be hard to distinguish from the joint pains of growing older, and if you’re a footballter, you probably already have a bit of osteoarthritis in your knees.
“But for those who have ongoing pains after an infection, it’s important to get it checked out by your doctor.”
The doctor said if you don't go to bed for a month you're going to dieHolbrook farmer Brett Strong