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Mozzie virus threat increasing

A SPIKE in Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus Infection cases across the state should come as a warning to Tweed campers this Easter holiday season.

North Coast Director of Public Health Paul Corben said both diseases were spread by mosquitoes, a danger to those exposed to the elements.

"There have been 169 cases of Ross River Virus and 97 cases of Barmah Forest Virus confirmed so far this year," Mr Corben said.

He said symptoms included tiredness, rash, fever and sore and swollen joints.

The symptoms can last for weeks or months.

Murray Valley Encephalitis and Kunjin Virus Infection are more rare mosquito borne infections but can cause symptoms like severe headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to bright lights, drowsiness and confusion.

Mr Corben said the safest way to avoid all mosquito borne infections was to take care when outdoors.

"We are approaching a time of year when families are doing more outdoor activities like barbecues and camping so it's important that people take steps to avoid being bitten," he said.

"I urge people to cover up, use insect repellents, install insect screens in your home and consider using mosquito nets when camping.

"It's also a good idea to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats by removing stagnant water around campsites, homes and gutters."

Simple steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes include:

  • Cover up as much as possible when outside with light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and covered footwear.
  • Use an effective repellent on exposed skin. Re-apply repellent within a few hours, as protection wears off from perspiration, particularly on hot nights. The best repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin. The stronger the concentration of an insect repellent, the less frequently it will need to be applied to stop mosquito bites. It's important to read the product information.
  • Topical repellents are not recommended for use on children under 3 months. Use of physical barriers such as netting of prams, cots and play areas is preferred.
  • Use mosquito coils outdoors or vaporising mats indoors. Products containing synthetic pyrethroids are most effective. Devices that use light to attract and electrocute insects are not effective.
  • Cover windows, doors, vents and other entrances with insect screens.
  • When camping, use flyscreens on caravans and tents or sleep under mosquito nets.
  • Remove potential mosquito breeding sites around the home. This includes removing stagnant water from containers, buckets, tyres, tarpaulins and black plastic, pot plant bases, aluminium cans and plastic containers.

For more information visit the NSW Health website: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/factsheets/infectious/index.asp

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