28 March 2024

Campers warned to protect themselves from mosquitoes this autumn

| Jarryd Rowley
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Mosquito on skin

Murrumbidgee Local Health District is warning campers and travellers to be wary of mosquitoes. Photo: File.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District is reminding travellers and campers to remain vigilant this Easter as the threat of mosquitoes still looms large.

Recent mosquito monitoring has detected Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus in coastal areas of NSW, particularly in the north.

Ross River and Barmah Forest virus infections can cause unpleasant symptoms which include tiredness, rash, fever, and sore and swollen joints. These symptoms usually last a few days, but some people may experience these symptoms for weeks or even months.

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NSW Health’s Director of Environmental Health Branch Dr Stephen Conaty said even though summer was over, continuing warm weather and wet conditions meant mosquitoes were still around in significant numbers and would be for several more weeks.

“Easter can be a busy time with people travelling around NSW to visit family or friends, spending time outdoors and engaging in activities like camping,” Dr Conaty said.

“Although not detected recently, mosquitoes may also carry serious viruses such as Murray Valley Encephalitis, Kunjin and Japanese Encephalitis, particularly west of the ranges.

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

Dr Conaty said Murray Valley Encephalitis, Kunjin virus and Japanese Encephalitis virus infections were rare but serious infections that could cause symptoms such as severe headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to bright lights, drowsiness, confusion, seizures, loss of consciousness and long-term disability and death.

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According to NSW Health, actions to prevent mosquito bites include:

  • Applying repellent to exposed skin. Use repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Check the label for reapplication times
  • Reapplying repellent regularly, particularly after swimming. Be sure to apply sunscreen first and then apply repellent
  • Wearing light, loose-fitting long-sleeve shirts, long pants, covered footwear and socks
  • Avoiding going outdoors during peak mosquito times, especially dawn and dusk
  • Use insecticide sprays, vapour dispensing units and mosquito coils to repel mosquitoes (mosquito coils should only be used outdoors in well ventilated areas)
  • Covering windows and doors with insect screens and checking there are no gaps
  • Removing items that may collect water such as old tyres and empty pots from around your home to reduce the places where mosquitoes can breed
  • Using repellents that are safe for children. Most skin repellents are safe for use on children aged three months and older. Always check the label for instructions
  • Protecting infants aged less than three months by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting, secured along the edges
  • While camping, use a tent that has fly screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering or sleep under a mosquito net

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