A substantial increase in mosquito numbers along the Duck River and around the Sydney Olympic Park foreshore following recent high tides has prompted a health warning to residents and visitors.
Routine mosquito trapping has found very high numbers of the saltmarsh mosquito Aedes vigilax, a potential carrier of Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses in the area.
High tides are expected next week and predicted rainfall could also lead to further increases in mosquito numbers.
Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus are spread by mosquitoes that feed on infected animals.
People who are infected could experience symptoms such as tiredness, rash, fever, sore and swollen joints.
Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) public health director Dr Shopna Bag said that while there have been no locally-acquired cases confirmed to date and transmission in urban areas is unlikely, people should still take precautions.
“Secondary bacterial infections can also result if bites are scratched and the skin is broken,” Dr Bag said.
“The best way to avoid infections occurring is to avoid being bitten,” Dr Bag said.
Simple steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes include: • Avoid being outside, unprotected, when mosquitoes are common at dawn and dusk.
When outside, cover up as much as possible with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
• Apply mosquito repellent regularly to exposed areas (as directed on the container). Repellents containing Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin are best.
• Don’t use repellents on the skin of children under the age of three months. Instead use physical barriers such as netting on prams, cots and play areas for babies.
• Remove mosquito breeding sites around the home, such as containers that hold water.
• Use flyscreens on windows and doors of houses and keep them in good order.
• When camping, use flyscreens, or sleep under mosquito nets.
For information on arbovirus and mosquito surveillance in NSW go to: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/pests/vector/Pages/surveillance.aspx
For a copy of the NSW Health fact sheets on Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus and infections, go to: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/Barmah_Forest_virus_infection.aspx http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/Ross-River-Fever.aspx