MANDURAH residents are warned there is a greater risk than usual of contracting mosquito-borne diseases as the weather warms up.
In response to this, City of Mandurah is ramping up its mosquito treatments.
The Department of Health is warning residents to take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes this spring and summer.
The City, in collaboration with the Peel Mosquito Management Group (PMMG), commenced this season’s mosquito reduction treatments in July, with four aerial treatments completed, most recently on September 16.
Department of Health managing scientist environmental health hazards Michael Lindsay said while WA had experienced below average numbers of mosquitoes last summer, higher mosquito numbers were expected to return this year.
Mosquitoes in Mandurah can transmit Ross River Virus (RRV) and Barmah Forest Virus (BFV).
Jordan Hay (21) was living on the estuary in Coodanup when she contracted BFV in 2013.
“I was on painkillers constantly,” she said.
“It got worse in the cold weather and the only thing that would help some days was a boiling hot bath because pain killers didn’t work.
“It was very painful.”
Ms Hay experienced joint pain, nausea, headaches and exhaustion.
She would be off work for a few days at a time and suffered a chest infection.
Dr Lindsay said recent substantial rainfall combined with increasing temperatures and higher than predicted tidal activity would favour increased breeding of mosquitoes.
“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,” he said.
“As a result, local governments are now better trained and better resourced to cope with the challenges of mosquito management.”
City of Mandurah chief executive Mark Newman said while it was difficult to predict future levels of mosquito activity because breeding was driven by climatic conditions, he urged the community not to be complacent about mosquito protection.
Dr Lindsay said there was no vaccine or specific cure for RRV or BFV and the best way to avoid infection was to prevent mosquito bites.
Symptoms of RRV and BFV include painful or swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches.
They can last for weeks or months and the only way to diagnose the viruses is by having a specific blood test.
Anyone experiencing 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
Year to date rates of BFV and RRV according to the Department of Health communicable disease report
BFV: 3 compared to 12 in 2015.
RRV: 149 compared to 483 in 2015.