NSW Health is warning parents and school communities about a range of health risks associated with mosquito bites.
There has been a significant increase in the numbers of mosquitoes in some parts of NSW following recent heavy rainfall and flooding.
Mosquitoes can transmit a number of viral infections, including Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus, and a large number of these infections have been reported in 2011.
A rarer but more serious mosquito-borne infection called Murray Valley encephalitis has also been detected in western NSW.
School students who live in western NSW, or who plan to travel west of the Great Dividing Range on school camps or excursions, should take particular care to prevent mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes are most active around dusk, in the first few hours of the evening and again at dawn.
Rivers, creeks, wetlands and recently-flooded land allows mosquitoes to breed. People living near or visiting these areas need to be especially careful.
Prevent mosquito bites
NSW Health suggests the following ways to reduce the risk of mosquito bites:
- Cover up when outside and mosquitoes are active – particularly around dawn and around dusk. Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting long pants and sleeves and covered footwear.
- Use an effective personal insect repellent on all exposed skin. The best mosquito repellents contain diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin.
- Reapply personal insect repellent according to directions as protection wears off. The stronger the concentration of an insect repellent, the less frequently it will need to be applied to stop mosquito bites. Repellents containing low concentrations of DEET or picaridin provide shorter periods of protection and need to be reapplied more frequently.
- Mosquito coils or plug-in vapourising mats are effective when used indoors. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
- Ensure houses are fitted with flyscreens on the doors and windows to prevent entry of mosquitoes.
- When camping, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleep under mosquito nets.
It is likely that the risk period may extend through until Easter.
Find out more information about mosquito-borne infections: