Ross River Fever Experience

I was diagnosed with Ross River Virus (RRV) in early February 2019. The fist test came back negative but having had this happen with Malaria before, I was aware that the results might not show up immediately, so I asked to be tested again two weeks later. This time it was positive. I had no rash, just a day or so of low grade fever followed by a few days of general fatigue. I thought I was lucky and had dodged a more severe condition.

However one or two weeks later, some nagging aches and pains became uncomfortable. I was beginning to experience severe joint and tendon pain, stiffness and swelling. It was mostly in my fingers, wrists, ankles and shoulders. At first I thought the pain might have been a response to my clumsy attempts to do a handstand on the lawn a week previously, but instead of easing it got worse. I thought of other causes but none made sense. Had I’d over done the exercise? It kept coming back to RRV as the cause. 

The pain appeared to be in the tissues surrounding the joints, mostly in ligaments and tendons. Usually it eased during the day but one wrist was quite swollen for some weeks. I had to strap it and avoid using it. Walking any distance aggravated the pain in my ankles, particularly the Achilles tendon on one foot.  

I employed a cleaner, as I couldn’t physically do it, I was in so much pain.  I had someone come and do some maintenance in the garden. The projects I had planned were put on hold. I curtailed my activities and withdrew. I slept in the middle of the day and watched an unprecedented amount of television.  I researched and went to great lengths to make sure there were no other reasons I might be in such pain. Was it the mould in my house?  I had it cleaned.  Could it be my teeth? I went to the dentist to make sure there was no chronic inflammation in my mouth.  Could it be Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune condition with similar arthritic type pain? I had a series of blood tests, CRP, ESR and Rheumatoid Factor that would indicate inflammation. None of these were elevated. I had tests for parasites, but there was nothing unusual. I reasoned that it was unlikely to be as a result of toxin exposure because I already keep away from or avoid as many environmental toxins as is possible. The cause of this joint pain just had to be Ross River Fever.

Once I accepted this was what I was dealing with, I started researching how best to attack it. I’m a nutritional therapist and already eat a relatively ‘clean’ diet, so I explored ways in which it could be improved. I put myself on as close to an Autoimmune Protocol as was possible and ate accordingly. It’s a difficult diet to follow but the rewards of reducing inflammation were a great incentive.  I allowed myself some nuts and seeds and continued with my red wine and one coffee a day.  I looked at what I could do to support my immune system.  I supplemented with several vitamins ranging from A, B, C and D and included Selenium, Zinc and Magnesium. I tried to change my thinking to reduce any stress and made sure I had quality sleep and some physical exercise.

Just as the pain varied in intensity, it varied in location.  For a week or more it might be most intense in one wrist and then it was an ankle. When one joint subsided another flared up but all the time there was a low grade pain and inflammation in fingers, wrists, shoulders and ankles.   I took CoQ10 for energy, I ate pineapple, ginger, pawpaw and kiwi fruit for their enzymes and tried to remember to eat them outside mealtimes so the enzymes might get used systemically. I investigated several herbs, one of which is stupidly illegal. proved to be exceptional in its pain killing and anti-depressive properties. Ashwagandha may also been of assistance for its anti-depressive properties. I’d been beginning to feel quite depressed and was aware of the relationship between chronic pain and depression.

Three months elapsed before I explored mild electric shock therapy. I bought a little pen that delivered a pulsating current. When placed on an acupuncture point it caused the muscle to spasm. Remarkably this seemed effective on the wrist, supporting an old wives tale that suggested holding an electric fence.

I found it frustrating that as a nutritional Therapist that I couldn’t heal myself, so I continued to explore other modalities. Sound Therapy was interesting. Homeopathy looked promising, indeed the course I undertook may have been the breaking point. It was either that or it was getting better anyway.  It might even have been the B complex injection I had. Either way, just over 4 months later I began to realise I felt almost back to normal.  My ankles and wrists are still slightly painful on extreme extension but for regular movement I am out of pain.

It’s been a journey and I rather suspect, it’s not over. It is highly likely that when my immune system is under par, this debilitating virus will once again make its presence known. I am nowhere near as strong or resilient as I was, nor am I as fit or as flexible as I was. There’s still much to do.

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