Friday, 7th January, 2011
An abundance of water has prompted the hospital to warn residents to take precautions against potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Good rainfall has provided ideal breeding sites for the mosquitoes, particularly in stagnant water in ponds.
The Far West Local Health Network said that while being bitten was irritating, there were other reasons to avoid mosquitoes - they can carry disease.
“Mosquito numbers can be associated with an increased risk of a number of viral infections of humans, with Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus being the most common in our area,” a spokesman for the network said.
The symptoms are similar for both infections and include fever, skin rash, painful muscles and joints and tiredness.
Murray Valley infection is also carried by mosquitoes, but is rarely seen in this area. However, conditions this year may increase that likelihood.
Only about one in 1,000 people develop symptoms which may include mild flu-like illness but in severe cases, Murray Valley infection can result in encephalitis, an acute infection of the brain, and even death.
“Not all bites are from mosquitoes. Midges and sandflies will also be about this summer, and while we are not worried about them carrying disease they can be veryitchy,” the spokesman said.
The hospital advises people to:
- avoid being outside unprotected before dawn and after dusk;
- avoid known high risk breeding sites, including marsh areas;
- wear loose fitting, light coloured clothes that cover your arms and legs when outside;
- use an insect repellent that contains the chemical DEET or picaridin on exposed skin;
- fit fly screens to all windows and doors and keep them in good repair;
- use a knockdown insecticide in bedrooms half an hour before going to bed according to instructions; and
- ensure open containers of water are removed from the home to prevent mosquitoes breeding.