Ross River Virus Disease Activity Associated With Naturally Occurring Nontidal Flood Events in Australia: A Systematic Review

J Med Entomol. 2014 Nov 1;51(6):1097-108. doi: 10.1603/ME14007. Epub 2014 Nov 1.


Ross River virus (RRV) disease is the most common and widespread mosquito-borne disease in Australia, resulting in considerable health and economic cost to communities. While naturally occurring nontidal flood events may enhance mosquito abundance, little is known about the impact of such events on RRV transmission. This article critically reviews the existing evidence for an association between naturally occurring nontidal flood events and RRV transmission. A systematic literature search was conducted on RRV transmission related to flooding and inundation from rain and riverine overflow. Overall, the evidence to support a positive association between flooding and RRV outbreaks is largely circumstantial, with the literature mostly reporting only coincidental occurrence between the two. However, for the Murray River, river flow and height (surrogates of flooding) were positively and significantly associated with RRV transmission. The association between nontidal flooding and RRV transmission has not been studied comprehensively. More frequent flood events arising from climate change may result in increased outbreaks of RRV disease. Understanding the link between flood events and RRV transmission is necessary if resources for mosquito spraying and public health warnings are to be used more effectively and efficiently.

Keywords: Ross River virus; flood; nontidal; outbreak; transmission.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alphavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Alphavirus Infections / transmission
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Floods*
  • Humans
  • Ross River virus*