Department of Health

Mosquito warning as Ross River cases rise

Published by Department of Health & Human Services

Victorians are being warned to protect themselves from mosquito bites with reports of Ross River Virus continuing to rise significantly this year.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Professor Charles Guest said as of 13 February 2017, there have been 1,012 notifications of Ross River Virus across the state - which is nearly 10 times greater than the previous major floods.

"Recent rain and relatively warm weather has created conditions ideal for mosquito breeding and we have seen a major increase in mosquito numbers as a result," he said.

"This summer, we are now seeing the biggest increase of Ross River Virus cases since the last major floods of 2010."

In 2011, there were 103 notifications of Ross River Virus up until 13 February.

The majority of cases being reported this year have been from the Loddon Mallee and Hume regions. Across rural Victoria there has been 238 cases in the Loddon Mallee Region, 329 in the Hume Region, 89 in the Grampians Region, 87 in the Barwon South West Region and 35 in the Gippsland Region.

In the Melbourne metropolitan area, cases have also been detected in Frankston and Casey.

Across Victoria, 18 high-risk and flood-affected councils have shared in an extra $4.6 million to combat the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. Of these, 11 council are now undertaking control measures for the first time through the treatment of mosquito breeding sites.

Control measures range from trapping mosquitoes to estimate numbers, testing sentinel chickens, using control agents to stop mosquito larvae from growing and fogging where numbers are excessive.

Symptoms for Ross River Virus are fever, headache, aching muscles and/or joints and fatigue. People experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention from their GP or their local hospital. Onset of symptoms may be from two to 14 days following a mosquito bite.

Professor Guest said everyone can take simple steps to avoid bites and protect yourself and your family against mosquito-borne diseases.

"Mosquitoes are at their most active at dawn and dusk, although some species can be present and bite throughout the day," Professor Guest said.

"Householders should ensure that insect screens fitted to doors and windows are in good condition.

"Residents are encouraged to wear long, loose-fitting clothing and use a suitable insect repellent containing picaridin or DEET as an active ingredient on exposed skin areas.

"Mosquito numbers can be reduced by getting rid of stagnant water around the home or campsites. Mosquitoes will breed in any receptacle that can hold water, including old tyres, unused fish ponds, unsealed water tanks and pot plant holders.

"As mosquitoes can hatch quickly, water containers around the home should be emptied at least once a week."

Information on protecting against mosquito bites is available on the Beat the Bite campaign page on the Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

Reviewed 17 February 2017


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