News: Flooding prompts mosquito borne disease warning

Residents have been urged to protect themselves against mosquitoes, following recent floods.

Posted: Thursday, 7 January 2016

High numbers of mosquitoes are expected in the Barkly following flooding rains over the Christmas period. Director of Medical Entomology, Nina Kurucz, said flooding rains in the Top End and Central Australia had created favourable breeding conditions for the common banded mosquito that can transmit Ross River virus (RRV) and Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVE).
“We are now in the high risk period for RRV and the very wet conditions in the NT could also trigger an early start to the MVE season,” Ms Kurucz said.
“Rainfall associated with monsoonal conditions can also assist waterbirds, the hosts for the MVE virus to migrate into Central Australia."
Elevated numbers of common banded mosquitoes are expected to increase once the flood water starts to recede. Numbers will be highest within 5km of mosquito breeding grounds, such as water filled depressions, seasonal lagoons and wetlands.
“To avoid mosquito borne disease cover up, use mosquito repellents and avoid being outdoors in areas where mosquitoes are active after sundown.
“MVE is a rare disease, but can potentially be fatal. The symptoms can include severe headache, high fever, drowsiness, tremor, seizures (especially in young children), and in some cases the disease progresses to delirium, coma, permanent brain damage or death,” Ms Kurucz said.
To minimize the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes, people should:
Use a protective repellent containing 20 per cent DEET or picaridin as a supplement to protective clothing when outdoors in mosquito prone areas
* Wear light-coloured clothing with long sleeves, long trousers and socks, between dusk and dawn in areas where mosquito bites are likely
Avoid outdoor exposure around dusk and at night near areas of dense vegetation and other areas of high mosquito activity
Use mosquito-proof accommodation and camping facilities at night
Use mosquito coils, mosquito lanterns, and barrier sprays containing bifenthrin in patio and outdoor areas near houses
Ensure children are adequately protected against mosquitoes
For more information on personal protection from mossies click here