Heading north on holidays? So are the mozzies!

People heading north these school holidays should take extra precaution against mosquito bites to avoid contracting any serious diseases, with an increase in mosquito numbers due to recent rains.

NSW Health’s Director of Environmental Health Dr Ben Scalley said holiday-makers enjoying outdoor activities, particularly camping and fishing, should cover-up and use insect repellent.

“Mosquito numbers increase after wet weather and with recent heavy rainfall in NSW, particularly around coastal locations in the north of the State, people need to be cautious,” Dr Scalley said.

“Recent outbreaks of Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus spread by mosquitoes have occurred in these areas, and there are presently no vaccines available to prevent infection.

“Symptoms include a rash, fever, tiredness and sore and swollen joints and can last anywhere up to three months but, in some cases, symptoms can persist for up to a year or more.

“Anyone who experiences symptoms should visit their local GP who will be able to advise on the best medications to relieve discomfort.”

Dr Scalley said people should take the following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Insect-proof houses by screening all doors and windows.
  • Use flyscreens or sleep under mosquito nets when camping.
  • Avoid being outside at dawn and dusk when mozzies are most active.
  • Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear outdoors.
  • Look for repellents with Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin and reapply regularly.
  • Don’t use repellents on infants under three months of age. Use netting to cover prams.
  • Use plug-in vaporiser mats around the home and spray in any dark areas or behind furniture.
  • Eliminate backyard breeding habitats by emptying pot plant drip trays.

The NSW Health factsheet is available here.