Holidaymakers are being urged to safeguard against mosquito-borne viruses during the Easter break, particularly in Northern NSW where recent flooding has created ideal breeding conditions.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard warned that people spending more time outdoors, particularly if camping, are at increased risk of mosquito-borne viral infections over coming days and weeks due to recent heavy rains and flooding.
“Mosquitos are not just a pest – they can transmit serious diseases. Make sure when you’re outside enjoying a well-earned break that you don’t return home with a nasty infection,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Ross River and Barmah Forest virus infections can cause debilitating symptoms that can last for weeks or, in some cases, months. There is no specific treatment, so the best protection is to not get bitten.”
Dr Ben Scalley, Director, Environmental Health Branch, NSW Health, said Ross River virus cases are higher than usual this year in inland parts of the state. The virus has also been detected in mosquitos in Sydney, along the Georges River.
“Conditions are now prime for breeding along the coast, where we expect the risk to increase,” Dr Scalley said.
“It is possible that mosquitos west of the mountains will be carrying the even more serious viruses such as Kunjin and Murray Valley encephalitis.
“Protect yourself by wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs and by applying repellent to exposed skin, particularly at dusk and dawn and when outdoors.”
Ross River and Barmah Forest virus infections can cause unpleasant symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever and sore and swollen joints.
For information on mosquito bite prevention, refer to Mosquitoes are a health hazard.
NSW Health fact sheets on mosquito-borne diseases, can be found at Infectious diseases fact sheets.