• Huge jump in virus cases

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    LOCAL residents are being urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites, in the wake of the rising number of Ross River Virus victims.

    Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Charles Guest on Friday confirmed to the Wangaratta Chronicle that local reported cases – up to February 13 – now stood at 42.

    He said there have been 1012 notifications of the debilitating virus across the state – nearly 10 times greater than the previous major floods in 2011.

    The Hume region has been the hardest hit in the state, with 328 cases reported to date (compared to just 10 during 2011), ahead of Loddon Mallee (238 cases), the Grampians (89), Barwon South West (87) and Gippsland (35).

    Wangaratta had the third highest prevalence in the Hume region, behind Shepparton (87) and Moira (54).

    Professor Guest said recent rain and relatively warm weather had created ideal breeding conditions and there had been a major increase in mosquito numbers.

    “This summer, we are now seeing the biggest increase of Ross River Virus cases since the last major floods of 2010,” he said.

    As reported in Friday’s Chronicle – when the number of local cases stood at 34 – Wangaratta is among several councils which have State Government funding to combat breeding sites to reduce mosquito numbers.

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