Health experts deliver mosquito warning

High rainfall during winter is expected to result in higher mosquito numbers this spring and summer and an associated greater risk of mosquito-borne disease, according to the WA Department of Health.

Residents in the South West are urged to be alert and to take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes over the coming warmer months.

Department of Health Managing Scientist Environmental Health Hazards, Dr Michael Lindsay said while many parts of Western Australia had enjoyed below average numbers of mosquitoes last summer, higher mosquito numbers were expected to return this year.

“Recent substantial rainfall combined with increasing temperatures and predictions of higher than usual tidal activity in coming months are likely to favour increased breeding of mosquitoes,” Dr Lindsay said.

“The Department of Health has enhanced the capacity for effective management of mosquitoes across WA through a targeted funding initiative over the past three years. As a result, local governments are now better trained and better resourced to cope with the challenges of mosquito management.”

You can read about work by the Shire of Dardanup to manage mosquitoes on this page of our website.

Dr Lindsay said that in addition to the mosquito-management work conducted by local governments and the Department of Health, it was important that the community remained mindful of the risks of mosquito-borne disease.

“Mosquitoes in Perth and the South West can transmit Ross River virus (RRV) and Barmah Forest virus (BFV),” he said.

“Given there is no vaccine or specific cure for either disease, the best way to avoid infection is to prevent mosquito bites.”

Symptoms of RRV and BFV include painful or swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches. Symptoms can last for weeks or months and the only way to properly diagnose the viruses is by having a specific blood test. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit their GP.

The Department of Health’s “Fight the Bite” campaign encourages individuals to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes by adopting the following simple measures:

  • avoid outdoor exposure particularly around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
  • wear protective (long, loose-fitting, light coloured) clothing when outdoors
  • apply a personal repellent containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin to exposed skin
  • empty or cover any standing water around the home or holiday accommodation to reduce mosquito breeding
  • ensure insect screens are installed and remain in good condition
  • use mosquito nets or mosquito-proof tents when camping or sleeping outdoors
  • ensure infants and children are adequately protected against mosquito bites, preferably with suitable clothing, bed nets or other forms of insect screening.

For more information on ‘Fight the Bite’ and how to prevent mosquito bites visit this website.