NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Recent increases in the notification of Barmah Forest virus infections in New South Wales

Lara Harvey, Dominic Dwyer

New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 15(12) 199 - 204 Published: 2004

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About the author/s

Lara Harvey

Dominic Dwyer


Infection due to Barmah Forest virus (BFV) is an emerging
problem in Australia, with increased numbers of cases
being reported. BFV is a mosquito-borne arbovirus from
the Togaviridae family. The virus was first isolated in
1974 from the Barmah State Forest in the Murray Valley
region of the Victoria–New South Wales border, and was
first shown to be pathogenic to humans in 1988.
Symptoms of acute human infection may include rash,
arthralgia, myalgia, lethargy and fever, and are similar
to symptoms caused by Ross River virus infection.
However, rash is more common and florid, and joint disease
is less severe, in BFV disease than in Ross River virus
disease. In a study of BFV cases on the mid-north coast
of New South Wales, over half of all cases reported time
off work and an illness that lasted more than 6 months.
BFV disease is therefore associated with a significant
burden of illness and is of public health concern. This
article describes trends in the notification rates for BFV
disease in New South Wales since it was made notifiable
in 1991.