Swat the mozzies this school break

Take care against mozzie bites these school holidays. Photo courtesy: Getty Images.

People planning to enjoy the great outdoors these school holidays should take extra care against mosquito bites to prevent catching any serious diseases, NSW Health has warned.

NSW Health’s Director of Environmental Health Dr Richard Broome said holiday- makers enjoying outdoor activities should cover up and use insect repellent.

“Recent rain and warmer autumn weather have led to higher than average numbers of mosquitoes in coastal areas, so people should be cautious,” Dr Broome said.

“Mosquitoes are usually found in warm, humid climates and near water, so it’s especially important to take extra care when camping, fishing or hiking to avoid Ross River or Barmah Forest virus.”

NSW Arbovirus Surveillance Program regularly monitors mosquito numbers and virus activity in collaboration with local authorities to provide warnings to the community.

So far this year there have been 171 cases of Ross River and 21 cases of Barmah Forest virus infections reported in NSW.

“Symptoms usually develop in around 7 to 10 days and can resemble the flu, with fever and aches and pains in muscles and joints. There can also be a rash associated with them, and generally feeling tired and weak,” Dr Broome said.

“There is no specific treatment for these infections. The best way to avoid infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”

People should take the following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

• Insect-proof houses by screening all doors and windows;

• use flyscreens or sleep under mosquito nets when camping;

• avoid being outside at dawn and dusk when mozzies are most active;

• wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear outdoors;

• choose repellents with Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin and reapply regularly;

• avoid using repellents on infants under three months of age and instead use netting to cover prams;

• use plug-in vapouriser mats around the home and spray in any dark areas or behind furniture; and

• eliminate backyard breeding habitats by emptying pot plant drip trays.

The NSW Health factsheet is available at: health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/mosquito-bite-avoidance.aspx