Western NSW Local Health District is warning the public to take care against mosquito-borne viruses following recent heavy rains and associated flooding. This increase in rain and flooding will result in an increase in mosquito breeding, particularly where there is pooled water.
Whilst being bitten is irritating, mosquitoes can carry disease such as Ross River, Barmah Forest Fever 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 Murray Valley Encephalitis can cause more severe symptoms such as encephalitis.
We are at the start of the season. At this point in time, there has been no increase in the number of reported cases of Ross River Virus. It is however important that care is taken in areas that have been affected by flooding. This includes areas around Forbes, Condobolin and other areas that have recently been inundated by heavy rain or flood waters. Other areas include the Macquarie Marshes and large bodies of water that are no longer flowing.
Dr Thérèse Jones from the Western NSW Local Health District Public Health Unit advises residents and visitors to take preventative action to avoid being bitten. Dr Jones suggests people should protect themselves by:
· 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;
· Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. If going outside at these times, take precautions such as using a repellent and/or wearing a loose fitting long sleeved shirt and trousers. If you find the repellent you are using does not work, try an alternative preferably containing DEET;
· 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;
· If you have a septic tank on your property and it was inundated with flood water, you will need to have it professionally pumped out;
· Ensure there are no containers around your property that store water;
· Ensure 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).