26 September 2023

Statewide warning against mozzie dangers

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Victorians are being warned to protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases this summer with the insects’ numbers high and expected to increase.

Deputy Chief Health Officer (Communicable Disease), Dr Deborah Friedman said recent flooding and heavy rainfall had increased mosquito breeding both inland and in coastal areas.

“There is increased risk that people living in or travelling to affected areas may be infected by mosquitoes carrying Ross River virus,” Dr Friedman said.

“Not all mosquitoes carry diseases – most are just a nuisance,” she said.

“However, some mosquitoes can carry a range of diseases including Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.”

Dr Friedman said that more rarely, mosquitoes could also transmit Japanese encephalitis virus, Kunjin virus and Murray Valley encephalitis virus, all of which could cause serious illness.

She said that aside from Japanese encephalitis, vaccines were not available for the other mosquito-borne diseases.

“Importantly there is no vaccine currently available to protect against Ross River Virus disease,” the Deputy Chief Health Officer said.

“Recent mosquito breeding is forecast to further increase mosquito biting in the upcoming weeks,” she said.

“Taking measures to avoid mosquito bites is therefore a critical step to protect against diseases.”

Dr Friedman said there were simple ways to protect against mosquito-borne diseases, which included covering up; using mosquito repellents containing picaridin or DEET; removing stagnant water where mosquitoes could breed; and using ‘knockdown’ fly sprays and plug-in repellent devices indoors.

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