Western NSW Local Health District is warning the public to take care to protect themselves against mosquito-borne viruses, particularly in the Macquarie Marshes region and surrounding communities (Nyngan, Warren, Coonamble, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Bourke, Brewarrina and Dubbo).
Significant numbers of mosquitoes are currently present in these areas and an increase in the incidents of mosquito-borne viruses has also been reported.
Mosquitoes can carry disease such as Ross River, Barmah Forest Fever, Kunjin Virus and Murray Valley Encephalitis. These infections can cause symptoms ranging from tiredness, rash, fever, and sore or swollen joints. Symptoms usually resolve within several days but some people may experience symptoms for weeks or even months. Infection with Kunjin Virus or Murray Valley Encephalitis can also cause more severe symptoms such as encephalitis.
Routine testing of the flock of sentinel chickens in the Macquarie Marshes also indicates that Kunjin virus is circulating in that area. NSW Health operates several chicken flocks in western NSW to help monitor the risks from Kunjin Virus or Murray Valley Encephalitis.
It is important that extra care be taken at this time to protect against mosquito bites and the Western NSW Local Health District Public Health Unit advises residents and visitors to take the following preventative action:
- Screening all windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from coming inside. If you live in an unscreened house or are camping, sleep under a mosquito net;
- When outside cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear, especially in the early morning and evening when mosquitoes are most active;
- Apply mosquito repellent regularly to exposed areas (as directed on the container). Repellents containing Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin are best. Repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or p-Menthane-3.8-diol (PMD) also provide adequate protection;
- When mosquitoes are present inside the room, use spray, especially behind furniture and dark places;
- Air conditioning, fans and mosquito coils are also effective in protecting yourself from mosquitoes;
- Try to avoid areas where mosquitoes are common, like swamps and marshlands. Ensure there are no containers around your property that store stagnant water and mesh is in place on septic vents.
If you would like more information, please contact your local Environmental Health Officer or the Western NSW Public Health Unit (Dubbo Office (02) 6809 8967, Bathurst Office (02) 6330 5945 and Broken Hill Office (08) 8080 1504). More resources are also available on the NSW Health website: www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/pests/vector/Pages/resources.aspx