MOZZIE ALERT: Cover up as insects may carry viruses
FAR North Coast residents are being urged to protect themselves against mosquitoes which are now in abundance thanks to the recent heavy rain.
While an itchy bite may not seem like a big deal, the North Coast Public Health Unit says these little pests are more than just a nuisance ‒ they can also transmit serious diseases.
The unit's assistant director, Greg Bell, said recent rainfall and warm weather had led to mosquito numbers increasing.
"As our coastal areas are expected to see a higher number of mosquitoes, it's a timely reminder for people to take simple steps to avoid being bitten," Mr Bell said.
"Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses are transmitted by infected mosquitoes that breed in flooded, grassy and swampy areas and around waterways."
Mr Bell urged people to protect themselves from being bitten by:
1. Wearing light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
2. Using an effective insect repellent and reapplying every few hours.
3. Using mosquito coils outdoors and vaporising mats indoors to repel mosquitoes from an area.
4. Covering all windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.
5. And when camping, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleeping under mosquito nets.
Mr Bell said the best mosquito repellents contained diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin. Those containing oil of lemon eucalyptus also provided adequate protection.
"To reduce areas for mosquitoes to breed around your home, clean up your yard and remove all water-holding rubbish, regularly flush out pot plant bases, keep house guttering clear, and make sure openings of septic tanks and water tanks are covered and screened securely," Mr Bell said.
More information about mosquito-borne infections is available on the NSW Health website at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/mosquito.aspx