Whilst Ross River virus (RRV) has been described as endemic throughout Australia and Papua New Guinea, its status in surrounding areas is unknown. In 1999 refugees from East Timor were evacuated to Darwin, Australia. Serum samples from 603 of these individuals were collected upon arrival. 202 of these were subsequently tested for the presence of anti-RRV IgG antibodies using an ELISA kit manufactured by PANBIO. Of those tested 8.5% returned a seropositive result indicative of exposure to a Ross River - like virus. No significant relationship between seropositivity and age was established, however, of the sample group, females were 6.5 times more likely to be seropositive than males. Lack of other demographic details precluded further epidemiological analysis. Nevertheless this study shows that RRV or RRVlike exposure occurs within East Timor. Due to the limited nature of diagnostic facilities within East Timor at present. wide spread testing for RRV or similar viruses is a relatively low health priority. Given this, perhaps the most important implication of this finding is the use of RRV disease as a differential diagnosis and an increased awareness from a public health stand point in case of future epidemics.
|Date of Award||Aug 2006|
|Supervisor||Paul Kelly (Supervisor)|