Travellers, residents warned to avoid mozzie bites in WA’s South West after Ross River, Barmah Forest viruses reports
Travellers and residents in Western Australia’s South West region are being warned to avoid mosquito bites following recent detections of the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses.
With school holidays starting this weekend and more people travelling south, including to the Peel region south of Perth, the Health Department warns people should be careful to avoid the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
It comes after the department’s surveillance program noted detections of both debilitating viruses.
The department’s managing scientist Abbey Potter said spring and summer were peak seasons for mosquito activity in the state’s south.
“The warmer weather, combined with persistent water from winter rainfall and tidal activity, has created ideal conditions for mosquitoes over recent weeks,” she said on Thursday.
“As families look forward to spending time outdoors over the upcoming school holidays, many will be travelling to the South West where mosquito numbers have increased.
“It’s important to pack an effective repellent and loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing for everyone in the family to prevent mosquito bites while you are away.”
Symptoms for both viruses, which can last months, include painful and swollen joints, sore muscles, a rash, fever, fatigue and headaches.
There is no known cure for Ross River virus but most people will recover in time, while research suggests Barmah Forest virus symptoms may not last as long.
Research into the long-term effects of both viruses is still being conducted.
In some rare cases, protracted Ross River virus symptoms can recur over years.
“Anyone experiencing symptoms should consult their doctor because infection can only be diagnosed through a blood test,” Dr Potter said.
“There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for either.
“The only way to prevent infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”
Mosquito management programs are undertaken by authorities but Dr Potter says it is not realistic to rely on them to control all mosquitoes.
“While there is no need to change your travel plans, this is a timely reminder to not become complacent,” she said.
TIPS TO AVOID CONTRACTING THE VIRUSES:
- Avoid outdoor exposure, particularly around dawn and dusk
- Wear long, loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing outdoors
- Apply a personal repellent evenly to any exposed skin
- Ensure insect screens are installed and in good condition
- Use mosquito nets or tents when sleeping outdoors
TIPS TO REDUCE MOSQUITOES BREEDING AROUND THE HOME:
- Dispose of all containers that hold water
- Stock ornamental ponds with fish
- Keep swimming pools well-chlorinated, filtered and free of leaves
- Fit mosquito-proof covers to vent pipes on septic and rainwater tank systems
- Empty pot plant drip trays once a week
- Empty, clean and replenish your pet’s water bowl every day
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