Victorians should take precautions during summer to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Rosemary Lester warned today.
“While the higher numbers of mosquitoes are mostly a nuisance factor, some mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus diseases,” Dr Lester said.
“Therefore people need to be diligent and protect themselves wherever possible,” she said.
“The summer holiday season is a time of increased outdoor activity so taking measures to avoid mosquito bites is a critical step to protecting against such diseases.
“The Health Department, in partnership with various local councils, has programs in place to monitor and, where needed, reduce mosquito numbers. But individuals also need to undertake simple precautions to help protect against mosquitoes.
“The Department in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries manages a sentinel surveillance program where small flocks of poultry are regularly tested for the presence of a range of mosquito-borne diseases,” she said.
“Traditionally, mosquitoes are at their most active at dawn and dusk, although some species can be present and bite throughout the day,” Dr Lester said.
Dr Lester said householders should ensure that insect screens fitted to doors and windows are in good condition.
“Visitors and residents should wear long, light coloured loose-fitting clothing and use a suitable insect repellent containing picaridin or DEET as an active ingredient on exposed skin areas.” she said.
“Mosquito numbers can be reduced by getting rid of stagnant water around the home or campsites. Mosquitoes will breed in any receptacle that can hold water including old tyres, unused fish ponds, unsealed water tanks and pot plant holders.
“As mosquitoes can hatch quickly in warm weather, water containers around the home should be emptied at least once a week,” Dr Lester said.
A range of information relating to protecting against mosquito bites is available on the Beat the Bite campaign page on the Better Health Channel at: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Beat_the_bite