Swat mozzies this school break

Peopleplanning to enjoy the great outdoors these school holidays should take extracare against mosquito bites to prevent catching any serious diseases, NSWHealth has warned.

NSW Health’sDirector of Environmental Health Dr Richard Broome said holiday- makersenjoying outdoor activities should cover up and use insect repellent.

“Recent rain andwarmer autumn weather have led to higher than average numbers of mosquitoes incoastal areas, so people should be cautious,” Dr Broome said.

“Mosquitoesare usually found in warm, humid climates and near water, so it’s especiallyimportant to take extra care when camping, fishing or hiking to avoid RossRiver or Barmah Forest virus.”

NSW Arbovirus SurveillanceProgram regularly monitors mosquito numbers and virus activity in collaborationwith local authorities to provide warnings to the community.

So far this yearthere have been 171 cases of Ross River and 21 cases of Barmah Forest virusinfections reported in NSW.

“Symptoms usuallydevelop in around7 to 10 days and can resemble the flu, with feverand aches and pains in muscles and joints. There can also be a rash associatedwith them, and generally feeling tired and weak,” Dr Broome said.

“There is nospecific treatment for these infections. The best way to avoid infection is toavoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”

People shouldtake the following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Insect-proof houses byscreening all doors and windows;
  • use flyscreens or sleepunder mosquito nets when camping;
  • avoid being outside at dawnand dusk when mozzies are most active;
  • wear light-coloured,loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear outdoors;
  • choose repellents with Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin and reapply regularly;
  • avoid using repellents on infants under three monthsof age and instead use nettingto cover prams;
  • use plug-in vapouriser mats around the home and sprayin any dark areas or behindfurniture; and
  • eliminate backyard breedinghabitats by emptying pot plant drip trays.

The NSW Healthfactsheet is available at: health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/mosquito-bite-avoidance.aspx

NSW Health’sDirector of Environmental Health Dr Richard Broome interview is available here.

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