Wet weather increases mosquito population, Ross River and Barmah Forrest Virus warnings

PREVENTION IS BEST CURE: Alaina and Chiara Zanatta protecting against mosquitoes. PHOTO: Anthony Stipo.
PREVENTION IS BEST CURE: Alaina and Chiara Zanatta protecting against mosquitoes. PHOTO: Anthony Stipo.

IT HAS BEEN a wet start to summer and Leeton residents have been warned to be on guard for mosquitoes carrying the Ross River Virus.

Director of the Murrumbidgee Local Health Department Public Health Unit Tracey Oakman said while the MIA had already had five Ross River notifications since July, more were likely after the recent wet weather and spoke in mosquito numbers. 

“Last summer was a very bad season and I encourage people to take precautions so this year is not as bad,” Ms Oakman said.

“Mosquito numbers have been lower than this time last year, but with the water lying around now after last weekends rain, numbers are expected to increase rapidly.”

Every year the Public Health Unit receives notifications of residents contracting Ross River Virus and Barmah Forrest Virus.

These viruses cause persistent and debilitating symptoms such as joint aches and pains, fever, chills, headache and sometimes a rash.

“The rash usually disappears after seven to ten days, but some people may experience these symptoms for weeks or even months,” Ms Oakman said.

While there is no specific treatment for these viruses, the old adage is true: prevention is the best cure.

Ms Oakman urged people to take simple precautions against mosquito bites.

Follow these simple steps to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Screening all windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from coming inside.
  • Avoid being outside unprotected, particularly during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. When outside cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
  • Apply mosquito repellent regularly to exposed areas (as directed on the container). Repellents containing Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin are best. Repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or p-Menthane-3.8-diol (PMD) also provides adequate protection.
  • Don’t use repellents on the skin of children under the age of three months. Instead use physical barriers such as netting on prams, cots and play areas for babies.
  • Light mosquito coils or use vaporising mats indoors. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
  • When mosquitoes are present inside the room, use over the counter insecticide sprays, especially behind furniture and dark places.
  • When camping, use flyscreens, or sleep under mosquito nets.
  • Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water or by emptying the containers.