Mosquito borne viruses on the rise in Mandurah and the south-west

The City of Belmont has a program in place to fight mosquitoes.
The City of Belmont has a program in place to fight mosquitoes.

ROSS River Virus diagnoses are up in the south metropolitan area – which includes Mandurah and Rockingham, according to Department of Health disease reports.

Mandurah residents are among those being reminded by the Department to avoid mosquito bites after Barmah Forest Virus was detected in the south-west.

Managing Scientist of Environmental Health Hazards Dr Michael Lindsay said the detection coincides with increases in mosquito numbers in coastal areas of the south-west linked to warm spring weather.

“Notifications of human cases of Ross River virus (RRV) have also been relatively high over recent weeks in residents of the Perth metropolitan area, indicating that the virus is active,” Dr Lindsay said.

There have been 10 cases of RRV diagnosed in Mandurah to Rockingham in the past four weeks, according to the Department’s state-wide notifiable disease report.

In comparison, this time last year there were four reported cases.

This is despite the City of Mandurah denial that mosquito numbers were on the rise.

Read more: mosquito numbers no more this year than last year 

BFV is similar to RRV, although generally less severe.

Symptoms of both diseases 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 blood test.

There is no cure for RRV or BFV so it is important people take care to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.

In the south-west of WA (including the Perth metropolitan area), the viruses are generally most active in late spring and summer.

Local governments are taking part in mosquito management programs.

“However, it is not realistic to rely on mosquito management programs alone to control mosquitoes – individuals living in or traveling to the region also need to take their own precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” he said.

Tips for avoiding mosquitoes
– 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 diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin evenly to all areas of 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.

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