Tony Kohlenberg, Senior Environmental Health Officer said while it’s been a dry summer on the North Coast detections of mosquitoes carrying Ross River virus or Barmah Forest virus continues to be high, with infected mosquitoes being found in the local traps.
“It is expected that as the temperature cools the mosquito numbers will start to fall, however, at present mosquito breeding is ongoing and the risk of being bitten is high” Mr Kohlenberg said.
Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses are common on the NSW north coast and are transmitted by infected mosquitoes that breed in flooded, grassy and swampy areas and around waterways.
On average in each year over the past decade about 500 people living on NSW north coast were diagnosed with either Ross River virus or Barmah Forest virus – in about equal numbers (about 250 cases of each are reported on average each year.)
Compared to the NSW average, people living on north coast are five to eight times more likely to be infected with Barmah Forest virus and three to five times more likely to be infected with Ross River virus.
“During late summer and autumn is when we usually see the highest numbers of reported cases of Ross River and Barmah Forest virus infections occurring so protecting yourself from mosquitoes at this time of year is particularly important”, Mr Kohlenberg added
Simple steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes include:
- When outside cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
- Use an effective repellent on all exposed skin. Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off with perspiration. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin.
- Light mosquito coils or use vaporising mats indoors. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
- Cover all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.
- When camping, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleep under mosquito nets.
“Preventing these viruses depends on avoiding mosquito bites, especially when mosquitoes are most active around dawn and dusk,” Mr Kohlenberg said.