Tis’ the season to not get bitten

Published

Top End residents and visitors are urged to cover-up and protect themselves from mosquitoes over the festive season to avoid the mosquito-borne disease, Ross River virus (RRV).

Medical Entomology Director, Nina Kurucz said that due to the humidity, mosquitoes live long enough to be able to pick up the debilitating RRV and transmit it to people.

“It’s a very unpleasant disease that can affect people for months, and there is no vaccine,” Ms Kurucz said.

“The best way to avoid RRV is to cover up at this time of year, use insect repellents and avoid being outdoors close to areas where mosquitoes are active especially at sundown.”

The highest risk period for RRV disease is from December to February. Disease symptoms include painful or swollen joints, particularly in the hands, ankles and knees, as well as fatigue and fever.

Salt marsh mosquitoes, which are currently present in elevated numbers, and the common banded mosquito, which will increase following monsoonal rains are the major carriers of the virus.

“Water filled containers in backyards, including buckets, plant drip trays and tyres breed mosquitoes that can carry the RRV.

“It is very important to tip out all containers with water and store them upside down or under cover to prevent mosquito breeding,” Ms Kurucz said.

Unused swimming pools, blocked roof gutters and unsealed rainwater tanks should also be inspected, as they can be productive mosquito breeding sites.

People in the Northern Territory are advised to:

  • inspect the outdoors of your residence or business for water in receptacles, drain and cover them
  • avoid shaded locations near coastal swamps, mangrove areas and freshwater wetlands
  • avoid outdoor exposure around dusk and at night near areas of dense vegetation and other areas of high mosquito activity
  • use mosquito-proof accommodation and camping facilities at night
  • wear light-coloured clothing with long sleeves, long trousers and socks, between dusk and dawn in areas where mosquito bites are likely
  • use a protective repellent containing 20 per cent DEET or picaridin as a supplement to protective clothing when outdoors in areas of mosquito activity
  • use mosquito coils, mosquito lanterns, and barrier sprays containing bifenthrin in patio and outdoor areas near houses
  • ensure children and animals are adequately protected against mosquito bites.

Media Contact: Dimitra Grehl 8999 2818 or 0427 596 954

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