Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, North Coast Public Health Unit says

Health hazard: Mosquito bites can have health implications.
Health hazard: Mosquito bites can have health implications.

When you head into the great outdoors over the summer period, don’t forget to take precautions against mosquito bites.

North Coast Public Health Unit director Paul Corben said the North Coast’s mosquito population increased during the summer which coincided with when people tended to spend more time outside.

“It puts us at increased risk of being bitten by mosquitoes,” he said.

Mosquitoes in our area can transmit Ross River fever and Barmah Forest virus.

Mr Corben said the area was seeing relatively low numbers of Ross River fever and Barmah Forest virus at the moment with numbers sitting at about half of what was normally experienced.

Ross River fever can cause flu-like symptoms, swollen and stiff joints, a rash and a general feeling of being unwell, while people with Barmah Forest virus can experience fever, chills, headache, muscle pain, swollen and stiff joints, a rash and lethargy.

Most people recover within a few weeks but others can experience symptoms for a longer period and some people report they never quite recover.

“The way to avoid getting these infections is to stop being bitten by mosquitoes,” Mr Corben said.

He encourages people to take a few simple steps such as covering up when outside, particularly at dawn and dusk, using insect repellent and ensuring home flyscreens are in good repair.

Mosquitoes need water to breed and some mosquitoes can breed in very small amounts of water.

People are advised to reduce the risk of mosquitoes breeding in around the home by cleaning up their backyard and removing all water-holding rubbish, flushing and wiping out bird baths and water features once a week and filling pot plant bases with sand to avoid standing water.

Other measures include keeping bins covered, ensuring drains and roof guttering are clear and covering or securely screening the openings of septic tanks and rainwater tanks.

Meanwhile, people travelling overseas to areas with a high-risk of serious mosquito-borne diseases should take extra precautions.

Doctors can provide further information and advice.