19 December 2017

Fight the bite this festive season

The Department of Health is reminding residents and holiday-makers across Western Australia to continue to be vigilant against mosquito bites this festive season as we enter the peak risk period for mosquito-borne diseases.

Medical Entomologist, Dr Peter Neville, said the Department’s mosquito and virus surveillance program had recently detected Ross River virus (RRV) in mosquitoes collected from the south-west of Western Australia, including Perth, in addition to ongoing detections of Barmah Forest virus (BFV).

“The viruses are generally most active in the south-west of WA, including Perth, in late spring and summer. In recent months, human cases of both diseases continue to be reported throughout the state, so it is important that residents and holidaymakers take care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes”, Dr Neville said.

Symptoms of RRV and BFV infection include painful and swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches, which can last from weeks to months. A blood test is required to diagnose the infection, and there are no cures or vaccines to protect against these viruses.

Dr Neville said while local government mosquito management programs are in place in many parts of WA, the sheer size and inaccessibility of some natural mosquito breeding habitats can make mosquito control difficult.

To avoid mosquito bites, residents and travellers should follow these simple measures:

  • avoid outdoor exposure particularly around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
  • wear long, loose-fitting and light coloured clothing when outdoors
  • apply a personal repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin evenly to any exposed skin
  • ensure insect screens are installed and remain in good condition
  • use mosquito nets or mosquito-proof tents when camping or sleeping outdoors.

To remove mosquitos around the home, residents should:

  • dispose of all containers which hold water where mosquitoes like to breed
  • stock ornamental ponds with fish
  • keep swimming pools well chlorinated, filtered and free of dead leaves
  • fit mosquito proof covers to vent pipes on septic and rain water tank systems. Seal all gaps around the lid and ensure leach drains are completely covered
  • empty pot plant drip trays once a week
  • empty, clean and replenish your pet’s water bowl every day.

More information on how to prevent mosquito bites (Healthy WA).

ENDS

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