“Mosquito numbers have increased in early autumn as the season has gradually become wetter,” Tony Kohlenberg, Senior Environmental Health Officer, said.
Barmah Forest virus has recently been detected in mosquitoes in the North and Mid-North Coast areas. Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses are common on the North Coast and are transmitted by infected mosquitoes.
“These infections can cause symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever, and sore and swollen joints. The symptoms usually resolve after several days but some people may experience these symptoms for weeks or even months,” Mr Kohlenberg said.
Avoiding mosquito bites will be especially important now and until at least after Easter, when higher tides are expected and many people may be enjoying outdoor activities such as camping or fishing in areas with high mosquito numbers.
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. Botanical based products (e.g. eucalyptus, citronella etc.) provide only limited periods of protection.
- Light mosquito coils or use vapourising mats indoors. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects have been proven to be ineffective in reducing mosquitos.
- 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 as the mosquitoes have become active after recent rain, warm temperatures and high tides,” Mr Kohlenberg said.
The NSW Arbovirus Surveillance Program monitors mosquito numbers and virus activity in collaboration with local authorities to provide warnings to the community.
An interview with NSW Health’s Director of Environmental Health, Dr Richard Broome, is available here.