El Niño Southern Oscillation and Ross River virus outbreaks in Australia

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. Fall 2004;4(3):210-3. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2004.4.210.


Various authors have suggested a general predictive value of climatic indices of El Niño/Southern Oscillation events as indicators of outbreaks of arbovirus disease, particularly Ross River virus in Australia. By analyzing over 100 years of historical outbreak data on Ross River virus disease, our data indicate that, although high Southern Oscillation Index and La Niña conditions are potentially important predictors for the Murray Darling River region, this is not the case for the other four ecological zones in Australia. Our study, therefore, cautions against overgeneralization and suggests that, since climate and weather exert different influences and have different biological implications for the multiplicity of vectors involved, it is logical that predictors should be heterogeneous.

MeSH terms

  • Alphavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Climate*
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Rain
  • Risk Factors
  • Ross River virus / isolation & purification*