Big wet brings mozzie virus threat

HEALTH professionals are urging Tweed residents and visitors to pull out the mozzie spray.

The North Coast Area Health Service has issued a public health alert for the mosquito-borne Barmah Forest and Ross River viruses.

Director of public health Paul Corben said there have been high mosquito numbers recorded in monitoring sites along the coast in the past few weeks.

“With the recent floods, ongoing widespread rain and high humidity we are expecting very high adult mosquito populations right along the North Coast over the coming weeks,” he said.

“With more mosquitoes maturing now and over coming weeks there will be a greater chance of being bitten and contracting a mosquito-borne virus.

“This is also the time of year when we usually see a steep rise in cases of Barmah Forest virus and Ross River virus infections, so it is particularly important people take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.”

So far this year on the North Coast 101 cases of mosquito-borne illnesses have been reported, with 56 cases of Barmah Forest virus and 39 cases of Ross River virus.

“Conditions are near perfect for mosquitoes and for the spread of these debilitating illnesses,” Mr Corben said.

“In a typical year we see about 300 cases of each of these illnesses, and we often see large outbreaks after flooding.”

Symptoms of infection with both viruses are similar and include flu-like symptoms, joint swelling and stiffness, a rash, and a feeling of tiredness or weakness.

The majority of people will recover completely within a few weeks. Others may experience symptoms on and off for more than three months, and in rare cases people may experi- ence symptoms for longer periods.

Mr Corben urged people to reduce the risk of being bitten by emptying stagnant water from old tyres, unused fish ponds, pot plant holders and other containers.

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