Friday , April 23 2021

Mosquito season: risk of Ross River virus warns NSW Health

NSW Health has warned people to protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases as the weather warms and people move outdoors.

NSW Health Pathology medical entomologist Dr. Cameron Webb said the warmer weather was a time to increase mosquito activity and that it was important to prepare against mosquito-borne diseases such as the Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus.

media_cameraDr. Cameron Webb collecting mosquitoes along the Parramatta River.

There were nine official notifications of the Ross River virus in NSW between October 28 and November 3 of this year and 11 in the previous week. There have been 512 cases reported so far this year in NSW compared to a total of 1592 during 2017 and 595 in 2016.

NSW has a robust system around reporting mosquito-borne diseases that includes catching mosquitoes to monitor their abundance and the activity of disease-causing viruses.

media_cameraRyde Council Environmental Monitoring Officer, Gith Strid-Nwulaekwe, at Korpie Reserve, Melrose Park, collecting mosquito lava.

Mosquito numbers have already been monitored by NSW Health and other organizations in Sydney, including Bankstown, Blacktown, Geroges River, Hawkesbury, Shire Hills, Penrith Ryde and Sydney Olympic Park.

During 2015, there were seven confirmed cases of Ross virus in Central – the largest annual number in the region in the last five years.

media_cameraWetlands and mangroves on the Central Coast can be mosquito breeding sites. Photo: AAP / Troy Snook.

Monitoring of local mosquito numbers was conducted in 2015 and 2016 in Empire Bay, Killcare Heights, Ourimbah, Halekulani and Charmhaven.

"The incidence of Ross River and Barmah Forest virus infections increases over the warmer months, especially with people who spend more time outside," Dr. Webb said.

Dr. Webb said that these diseases are more common "in rural and dense areas around Sydney," but urge people to avoid insect and mosquito bites.

media_cameraThere are still no vaccines for the Ross River virus.


Symptoms usually develop in about seven to 10 days and may resemble influenza, with pain and pain in the muscles and joints. There may also be a rash associated with them and a general feeling of feeling weak or ill.

Most people recover in a few weeks, some will continue to have symptoms like joint pain and fatigue for many months.

Currently, there is no vaccine for any of the diseases, so avoiding them means avoiding mosquito bites that spread them.

media_cameraInsect repellent is recommended to avoid mosquito bites.


Ross River virus infection is the most commonly reported mosquito-borne disease in Australia, with more than 4,000 registered cases of disease each year. Activity was recorded from all the states and territories of the country. And although the Ross River virus generally considers a disease of the rural regions, it is increasingly active in urban areas where there are suitable wetlands and other conditions.

An outbreak of the Ross River virus was recorded in Melbourne for the first time. Six cases were confirmed, three in Frankston and three in Cranbourne. Courtesy: Seven News

The Ross River virus is being increasingly detected in urban areas.


■ Avoid being unprotected, particularly during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

■ When the exterior is covered up, as far as possible, in wide and loose clothing and covered footwear.

■ Apply mosquito repellant regularly to exposed areas (as directed on container). Repellents containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridine are the best.

media_cameraMosquito nets are coming back to style to avoid mosquito bites.

■ Do not use repellents on the skin of children under three months of age. Instead, use physical barriers such as nets on baby carriages, cribs, and play areas for infants.

■ Screen all windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

When camping, use flyscreens or sleep under mosquito nets.

■ Limit the number of places around your house for mosquitoes to reproduce by getting rid of items holding water or emptying containers.

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