Health warning on mosquito viruses: Keeping your family safe

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NSW Health is urging people to take precautions and protect themselves against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne diseases over the Christmas period.

NSW Health Director of Health Protection, Dr Jeremy McAnulty said people should take steps to avoid exposure to mosquitoes, particularly those planning to take holidays around bush, coastal and country areas.

“Mosquito activity increases in the warmer months and increases the danger of diseases such as Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus which occurs particularly in rural, coastal and bush areas,” Dr McAnulty said.

“The incidence of Ross River and Barmah Forest virus infections increase greatly during summer and can cause unpleasant symptoms including, rash, fever, sore and swollen joints, and tiredness.

“These symptoms usually last a few days, but some people may experience more debilitating symptoms for weeks and occasionally longer.

“There is no specific treatment for these viruses. The best way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten.”

Dr McAnulty said while mosquito borne infections occur mainly in rural and coastal areas, they can also be prevalent in bush areas in and around Sydney.

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Ways to avoid mosquito bites include:

  • Avoid being outside, unprotected, when mosquitoes are common including dawn and dusk. 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.
  • 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.
  • Eradicate mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as containers that hold water.
  • Use flyscreens on windows and doors of houses and keep them in good order.
  • When camping, use flyscreens, or sleep under mosquito nets.

Source: NSW Government 

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Date Created: December 26, 2012 Date Modified: January 6, 2013