An increase in the number of Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus infections on the north coast has sparked a warning for people to protect themselves against virus-carrying mosquitoes.
North Coast director of public health Paul Corben said there have been 169 cases of Ross River Virus and 97 cases of Barmah Forest Virus confirmed so far this year.
‘Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus are spread by mosquitoes that feed on animals with an infection. Symptoms include tiredness, rash, fever, and sore and swollen joints and, while these symptoms usually subside after several days, some people may experience these symptoms for weeks or even months,’ Mr Corben said.
‘Murray Valley Encephalitis and Kunjin Virus infection are two rare, but serious mosquito-borne infections, which can cause symptoms such as severe headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to bright lights, drowsiness and confusion.
‘I urge people to cover up, use insect repellents, install insect screens in your home and consider using mosquito nets when camping.
‘It’s also a good idea to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats by removing stagnant water around campsites, homes and gutters.’
Simple steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes include:
• Cover up as much as possible when outside with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
- • Use an effective repellent on exposed skin. Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off from perspiration, particularly on hot nights. The best repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin. The stronger the concentration of an insect repellent, the less frequently it will need to be applied to stop mosquito bites. It’s important to read the product information.
- • Topical repellents are not recommended for use on children under three months. Use of physical barriers such as netting of prams, cots and play areas is preferred.
- • Use mosquito coils outdoors or vaporising mats indoors. Products containing synthetic pyrethroids are most effective. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
- • Cover windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.
- • When camping, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleep under mosquito nets.
- • Remove potential mosquito breeding sites around the home. This includes removing stagnant water from containers, buckets, tyres, tarpaulins and black plastic, pot-plant bases, aluminium cans and plastic containers.
For copies of the NSW Health fact sheets on such viruses, visit http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/.