“Ross River virus is passed to people by mosquitoes and so far in November and December this year, we have seen more people infected than usual on the north coast,” said Tony Kohlenberg, Senior Environmental Health Officer.
“The mosquito numbers will increase now that we’ve had some more rain, which forms puddles and ponding where mosquitoes prefer to breed,” Mr Kohlenberg said.
Compared to the rest of NSW, people living on the 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.
Over the past decade an average of 475 people living on the NSW north coast were diagnosed each year with either Ross River virus or Barmah Forest virus.
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 vapourising 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 infection with these viruses depends on avoiding mosquito bites, especially in the warmer months of the year when mosquitoes are most active,” Mr Kohlenberg said.