Health experts warn against mozzie bites

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The Department of Health is reminding residents and holiday-makers across Western Australia to continue to be vigilant against mosquito bites this festive season as we enter the peak risk period for mosquito-borne diseases.

The Department of Health's virus surveillance program collected mosquitoes from the south west of Western Australia, including Perth, found the insects carried Ross River virus, in addition to ongoing Barmah Forest virus.

Medical Entomologist, Dr Peter Neville, said the viruses are generally most active in the south-west of WA in late spring and summer.

"In recent months, human cases of both diseases continue to be reported throughout the state, so it is important that residents and holidaymakers take care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes," Dr Neville said.

Symptoms of both viruses include painful and swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches, which can last from weeks to months.

A blood test is required to diagnose the infection, and there are no cures or vaccines to protect against these viruses.

Dr Neville said while local government mosquito management programs are in place in many parts of WA, the sheer size and inaccessibility of some natural mosquito breeding habitats can make mosquito control difficult.

There are a number of ways to avoid mosquito bites, including avoiding outdoor exposure particularly around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

People can also wear long, loose fitting clothing when outdoors and perhaps the most obvious solution is to wear insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin.

Dr Ben Scally said people out enjoying their summer camping also need to look at ways to reduce their risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.

"If people are out camping, make sure your tent is well protected with fly screens or sleep under a mosquito net," Dr Scally said. 

To mosquito-proof your home the department suggest people dispose of all containers which hold water where mosquitoes like to breed, keep swimming pools well chlorinated, filtered and free of dead leaves and fit mosquito proof covers to vent pipes on septic and rain water tank systems

People are also reminded to think of their pets, and clean and replenish their water bowls every day.

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