Mosquitoes can transmit a number of serious human diseases. In NSW, some mosquitoes transmit viruses such as
Murray Valley encephalitis. Some parts of northern Queensland have mosquitoes that can transmit
Overseas travellers may be at risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as
Zika. While vaccines are available for some diseases (e.g.
Japanese encephalitis) and chemoprophylaxis medicine can help prevent
malaria, all travellers should also use repellents and other general protective measures to avoid mosquito bites.
Wear loose, light-coloured clothing with long sleeves and pants when outside. Also wear socks and shoes where possible. Clothing pre-treated with insecticides can provide additional protection but remember that repellent must still be applied to exposed skin.
The most effective mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) (also known as Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus).
The strength of a repellent determines how long it will protect against mosquito bites, with higher concentrations providing longer periods of protection.
Apply repellent to all areas of exposed skin, after you apply sunscreen. Avoid putting repellent near the eyes and mouth, or over open wounds, broken skin or abrasions. Always follow the product label instructions.
It's important to reapply repellent after swimming. The length of protection from repellent is also reduced with sweating, such as during strenuous activity or hot weather, so it may need to be reapplied more frequently.
Most repellents are safe for use on children aged 3 months and older when used according to directions, although some formulations are only recommended for children aged 12 months and older - always check the product label for recommended age use.
Don't allow children to apply their own repellent, apply it on them. Infants aged less than 3 months can be protected from mosquitoes by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting that is secured along the edges.
Registered mosquito repellents used according to product label instructions are considered safe for use during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
Aerosol insecticide sprays, mosquito coils (used outdoors) and insecticide vapour dispensing units (used indoors) can help to clear or repel mosquitoes. These products should be used in addition to, not in place of, other measures such as appropriate clothing and the application of mosquito repellents.
Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects have not been proven to be effective in reducing mosquito numbers and often kill harmless insects.
Take extra care during peak mosquito activity times to reduce the risk of infection. In NSW, most mosquitoes become active at dawn and dusk, and into the evening. Avoid the outdoors during these times or take preventive actions (such as appropriate clothing and skin repellent).
When travelling overseas it is important to be aware of the biting patterns of the local mosquitoes which transmit diseases. For example:
Mosquitoes need water to breed, and some mosquitoes can breed in very small amounts of water. Measures to reduce the risk of mosquitoes breeding around the home include:
Properly cleaned and chlorinated swimming pools are rarely a source of mosquito breeding, but neglected pools can be a haven for mosquitoes.
If you live on a farm, additional precautions are needed to reduce opportunities for mosquitoes to breed. These include:
In addition to the general protection measures above, travellers should also:
Staying healthy when travelling overseas factsheet for further information on travel.
Smartraveller website also has health information for specific destinations.
For further information please call your local public health unit on
1300 066 055.