14 April 2011
NSW Health is warning residents to cover up in order to avoid mosquito bites during the school and Easter holidays.
NSW Health Director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said at this time people still need to be vigilant about mosquito borne viruses.
“As families head out for the last camping trip before the approaching cooler weather, they still need to take precautions against mosquitoes, to cover up, to use effective repellents and to light mosquito coils,” he said.
Although mosquito numbers are starting to fall with the cooler weather, people can still be bitten, especially if they visit or live near bushland, rivers or wetlands. Mosquitoes are usually most active in the hours after sunset and again around dawn. There are still high numbers of mosquitoes in some parts of NSW.
“Many mosquitoes can carry Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses. More serious viruses such as Murray Valley Encephalitis and Kunjin are also a risk in NSW this year,” said Dr McAnulty. 
“Ross River and Barmah Forest virus infections can cause symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever, and sore and swollen joints.
“These symptoms usually last a few days, but some people may experience more debilitating symptoms for weeks and occasionally even months.”
Rare more serious infections carried by mosquitoes, such as Murray Valley Encephalitis and Kunjin virus - which can both cause a severe brain infection - have been detected in NSW this year.
There is no specific treatment for these viruses so prevention depends on avoiding mosquito bites, especially when mosquitoes are most active.
The good news is that it’s easy to protect yourself from mosquitoes and the viruses they carry by taking some simple steps:
  • 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 from perspiration, particularly on hot nights. The best mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin.
  • The stronger the concentration of an insect repellent, the less frequently it will need to be applied to stop mosquito bites. Repellents containing low concentrations of DEET or Picaridin provide shorter periods of protection and need to be reapplied more frequently so it's important to read the product information.
  • Topical repellents are not recommended for use on children under 3 months. Use of physical barriers such as netting of prams, cots and play areas is preferred. Repellents containing less than 10% DEET or Picaridin are safe for older children if applied according instructions. Parents or carers should apply repellent.
  • Light mosquito coils or use vapourising mats indoors. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
  • Cover all windows, doors, chimneys, vents and other entrances with insect screens.
  • When camping, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleep under mosquito nets.
For a copy of the NSW Health fact sheet on Murray River Encephalitis (MVE) virus, Kunjin virus, Ross River Fever or Barmah Forest virus go to: