The Department of Health has warned residents of the Peel region to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes after recent detections of Ross River (RRV) and Barmah Forest (BFV) viruses in the area.
Department of Health management scientist Dr Abbey Potter said spring and summer are the peak seasons in the Southwest for mosquito activity and RRV infection in humans.
“The warmer weather, combined with the persistent water from winter precipitation and tidal activity, has created ideal conditions for mosquitoes in recent weeks,” she said.
“As families look forward to spending time outdoors during the next school holidays, many will be heading to the South West where mosquito numbers have increased.
“It is important to pack long-sleeved, repellent clothing that is effective for everyone in the family to avoid mosquito bites while you are away. “
Symptoms of RRV and BFV infection can last from a few weeks to several months and include painful and swollen joints, sore muscles, rash, fever, fatigue, and headache.
In rarer cases, prolonged symptoms of RRV have been reported to recur in the years following infection.
“Anyone with symptoms should see their doctor because the infection can only be diagnosed by a blood test,” said Dr Potter.
“There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for RRV or BFV – the only way to prevent infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. “
The town of Mandurah is working with the Ministry of Health to manage mosquito populations.
“It is unrealistic to rely solely on mosquito management programs to control all mosquitoes,” said Dr Potter.
“While there is no need to change your travel plans, it is a timely reminder not to get complacent. “
Dr Potter said the following simple steps could protect you and your family:
avoid outdoor exposure, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
wear long, loose fitting, light-colored clothing when you are outdoors.
apply a personal repellant containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin evenly to any exposed skin (always follow label directions).
ensure that infants and children are adequately protected from mosquito bites, preferably with appropriate clothing, mosquito nets or other forms of insect protection.
ensure that screens are installed and remain in good condition.
use mosquito nets or mosquito tents when camping or sleeping outside.
To reduce the potential for mosquitoes to breed around the home, residents should:
throw away any containers with water where mosquitoes like to breed.
fill ornamental ponds with fish.
Keep swimming pools well chlorinated, filtered and free of fallen leaves.
install mosquito covers on the ventilation pipes of septic tank and rainwater systems. Seal all spaces around the cover and make sure the leach drains are completely covered.
empty the drip trays of potted plants once a week.
empty, clean and fill your pet’s water bowl every day.
For more information on mosquito bite prevention, visit http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/fightthebite