Mosquito-borne disease warning

The Barwon South West Pubic Health Unit (BSWPHU) is urging people travelling or camping over the upcoming public holidays to ensure you are up-to-date with the latest advice to be protected from mosquito-borne diseases.

Mosquitos are the deadliest living creatures on earth, carrying diseases that kill three quarters of a million people worldwide each year. Whilst this is mostly due to malaria related illness overseas, there are five main mosquito-borne viruses of concern in Victoria – Murray Valley Encephalitis, Japanese Encephalitis, Barmah Forest Virus, Ross River Virus and West Nile/Kunjin viruses.

The first human case of MVE virus infection was confirmed in Victoria in early February.

Barwon South West Public Health Unit Director, Professor Eugene Athan OAM, said people travelling to areas along the New South Wales and Victorian border should reduce their risks when outdoors.

“Warm and wet weather can mean more mosquito biting and breeding, including the ones that can carry diseases that make you sick. Some of these diseases are very serious and can cause long term illness and in some cases death,” he said.

“If you are travelling or camping over the upcoming long weekends, especially to northern Victoria or regional NSW, I encourage people to take extra precaution when travelling to areas near rivers and lakes. Your only protection against mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry is to avoid mozzie bites.”

Some tips to remember:

  • Mozzies can bite through tight clothing. Cover up – wear long, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Use mosquito repellents containing Picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin.
  • Limit outdoor activity if lots of mosquitoes are about.
  • Remove stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed around your home or campsite.
  • On holidays make sure your accommodation is fitted with mosquito netting or screens.
  • Use ’knockdown’ fly spray, mosquito coils or plug-in repellent where you gather to sit or eat outdoors.
  • Don’t forget the kids – always check the insect repellent label. On babies, you might need to spray or rub repellent on their clothes instead of their skin. Avoid applying repellent to the hands of babies or young children.

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