It’s been a year since Graham Solomons was bitten by a mosquito and caught Ross River fever, and he’s still battling the debilitating symptoms.
The rash he suffered early in his illness is less extensive, but it still reappears, and the fatigue frequently comes back and forces him to swap his love of lawn bowls for the couch.
Mr Solomons is urging people to cover up and use insect repellent after NSW Health revealed there has been a five-fold increase in the number of Ross River fever reports across NSW between November and December.
In the Hunter there were 21 cases reported in December and 40 in January. Across the state there were 199 cases in December and 108 in January. Last year 617 people contracted it across NSW and 111 of those cases came from the Hunter.
Most victims are men between the age of 39 and 69, and women between the age of 35 and 64.
Some people who have the virus never develop symptoms, while others can have flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, aches and pains, muscle and joint pain.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” he said. “I have my good days and bad days, some days I feel tired and fatigued and I don’t want to do anything.
“At times I get breathless easily, which is one of the symptoms. Some days I wake up and I don’t want to eat.”
Mr Solomons said his symptoms often disappeared for a few weeks and then returned.
“When I first got it I didn’t eat for eight days ...There’s no cure for it, it stays in your blood stream.”
Mr Solomons said he was bitten in his backyard.
"I was pruning a bush late in the afternoon and I think that's when I was bitten on my wrist," he said. "A few days later I had aches and pains, a small red dot on my wrist which was sore rather than itchy.”
Opposition spokesman for health Walt Secord urged the state government to step up public education campaigns in a bid to help prevent the virus.
“Make no mistake, we are in the middle of a Ross River surge in NSW,” he said.