Staying Safe From Mosquito-Borne Diseases This Summer

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The Allan Labor Government is urging Victorians to be proactive in protecting themselves from mosquito-borne diseases this season, with warm weather increasing the risk of transmission in a number of regions across the state.

Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said during an inspection of the mosquito surveillance program at LaTrobe University’s AgriBio Center for AgriBioscience that preparation is key to staying safe.

One of the functions of the centre, a joint government and university initiative, is to analyze samples from 60 traps in Victoria to identify mosquito-borne diseases – a task carried out every week during the mosquito breeding season, from November to end of April.

Following last season’s heavy rain and flooding, especially in parts of northern Victoria, conditions have created an ideal environment for disease to spread to the mosquito population. Critical surveillance has shown that disease risk this mosquito season may be higher than normal.

Mosquito-borne diseases cannot spread from person to person and most cases will be mild, but for some people the transmission can lead to serious long-term health complications.

These complications are exacerbated if a mosquito carries Japanese encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis, Ross River, Barmah Forest and West Nile viruses.

Simple and practical steps Victorians can take to reduce the risk of mosquito bites include:

  1. Cover up by wearing long, loose-fitting clothing – mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing

  2. Using mosquito repellents containing Picaridin or DEET on all exposed skin

  3. Check the repellent label before applying to children – it is recommended to spray or rub repellent on children’s clothes, avoiding the skin and especially the hands

  4. Limiting outdoor activities if there is a significant increase in mosquito numbers and using ‘knockdown’ fly spray, mosquito coils or plug-in repellent while sitting or eating outdoors

  5. Removing standing water where mosquitoes can breed around the home or a campsite

  6. Make sure that the accommodation is equipped with mosquito nets or insect screens during the holiday

Victorians in high-risk local government areas are also eligible for the Japanese encephalitis vaccines – available from GPs, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations, community pharmacies and councils.

More information is available on the Better Health Channel and the Department of Health website.

As said by Minister of Health Mary-Anne Thomas

“As we spend more time in Victoria’s outdoors this summer, it is critical to be aware of the risks associated with mosquito-borne diseases and how we can prevent transmission, including vaccination and regular application of repellents.”

“AgriBio’s hard-working team plays a crucial role in predicting mosquito seasons and helping our health experts provide early warning to protect Victorians.”

As stated by Minister of Agriculture Ros Spence

“AgriBio is a world-class facility proudly supported by the Labor Government. Her world-leading agricultural bioscience research, including mosquito monitoring, is making a real difference across Victoria.”

Local government areas at high risk for mosquito-borne diseases and where residents are eligible for the Japanese encephalitis vaccine include:

  • Benalla

  • Campaspe

  • Greater Bendigo

  • Stern

  • Indigo

  • Mildur

  • Northern Grampians

  • Swan Hill

  • Wangaratta

  • Off the wall

  • Buloke

  • Gannawarra

  • Greater Shepparton

  • Horsham

  • London

  • Moira

  • Strathbogie

  • Pull

  • West Wimmera

  • Yarriambiack

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