Ross river virus

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a health advisory recommending methods for residents and visitors in Victoria to protect themselves from Ross River virus transmitted via mosquitoes.

This is a timely reminder for veterinarians to consider the possibility of arboviral disease when they are called to attend horses displaying neurological or muscular signs. The three primary arboviruses of concern in Victoria are:

  • Ross River virus
  • Murray Valley encephalitis virus
  • West Nile virus (Kunjin strain).

These infections are diagnosed by the detection of viral antibodies in the blood.

Note: Infection can only be confirmed through the collection of two separate blood samples taken two weeks apart (to observe a rise in antibody concentration). A single blood sample is not enough.

Make sure it's not Hendra virus

Please note that a differential diagnosis of Hendra virus infection should always be considered when examining a horse with neurological signs. It is very important that an accurate diagnosis or disease exclusion is obtained and that suitable personal protective equipment is always worn when handling and sampling horses displaying neurological signs.

See resources for the safe management of suspected Hendra virus cases.

Subsidies and more information

Subsidies may be available through the Significant Equine Disease Investigation Scheme or the Significant Disease Investigation Program for these disease investigations. Please contact your local Agriculture Victoria veterinary officer for more information – call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186

See VetSource for more information on arboviral disease in horses and prevention methods.

Page last updated: 29 Jan 2024