14 November 2018

NSW Health is reminding people to protect themselves against mosquitoes when spending time outdoors.

Dr Cameron Webb, Medical Entomologist at NSW Health Pathology, said the warmer weather is a time for increasing mosquito activity and it is important to prepare against the diseases carried by them such as Ross River and Barmah Forest virus.

“The incidence of Ross River and Barmah Forest virus infections increases over hotter months, especially with people spending more time outside,” Dr Webb said.

“Although these diseases are usually found in mosquitoes in rural and bushy areas around Sydney, people should still take precautions against mosquito and insect bites.

“Symptoms usually develop in around seven to 10 days and can resemble the flu, with aches and pains in muscles and joints. There can also be a rash associated with them, and a general feeling of feeling weak or unwell.

“Most people recover in a few weeks, some will continue to experience symptoms like joint pain and fatigue for many months,” Dr Webb said.

NSW has robust system around the notification of mosquito-borne disease that includes the trapping of mosquitoes to monitor their abundance and the activity of viruses that causes diseases.

There is currently no vaccine for either disease so preventing them means avoiding the bites of mosquitoes that spread them.

People are being urged to take the following steps to avoid mosquito bites.

  • Avoid being outside unprotected, particularly during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • When outside cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
  • Apply mosquito repellent regularly to exposed areas (as directed on the container). Repellents containing Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin are best.
  • Do not use repellents on the skin of children under the age of three months. Instead, use physical barriers such as netting on prams, cots and play areas for babies.
  • Screen all windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • When camping, use flyscreens, or sleep under mosquito nets.
  • Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water or by emptying the containers.

For more information see Mosquitoes are a health hazard.