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Japanese encephalitis sample found in Menindee

Mosquito

NSW Health is reminding communities about the importance of reducing the risk of mosquito bite, with Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) urging people to take extra precautions to protect themselves against mosquito-borne disease.

Routine testing in Menindee in late December  – a sentinel chicken program provides early warning about the presence of serious mosquito borne diseases – revealed a positive result for the potentially serious Japanese encephalitis (JE).

With more people spending time outdoors through the summer months, health professionals are reminding people to follow some basic steps to reduce mosquito bite risk.

Acting Director of Environmental Health Paul Byleveld says mosquitoes thrive in wet, warm conditions like those much of NSW is experiencing and can carry viruses such as Japanese encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE), Kunjin, Ross River and Barmah Forest.

“The viruses may cause serious diseases with symptoms ranging from tiredness, rash, headache and sore and swollen joints to rare but severe symptoms of seizures and loss of consciousness,” said Mr Byleveld.

“People should take extra care to protect themselves against mosquito bites and mosquito-borne disease, particularly after the detection of JE in a sentinel chicken in Far Western NSW.”

Director of Public Health Far West and Western NSW Local Health District Priscilla Stanley said it’s important for people around the FWLHD to be vigilant about protecting themselves, particularly after JE has been detected in a chicken used during the mosquito season to monitor for mosquito borne diseases.

“The best thing people throughout the district can do to protect themselves and their families against JE is to take steps to avoid mosquito bites,” said Ms Stanley.

Simple actions you can take include:

  • Avoid going outdoors close to wetland and bushland areas especially during peak mosquito times, at dawn and dusk.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks outdoors to reduce skin exposure. There are insecticides (such as permethrin) available for treating clothing for those spending extended periods outdoors.
  • Apply repellent to all areas of exposed skin, especially those that contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus which are the most effective against mosquitoes. The strength of a repellent determines the duration of protection with the higher concentrations providing longer periods of protection. Always check the label for reapplication times.
  • Reapply repellent after swimming. The duration of protection from repellent is also reduced with perspiration, such as during strenuous activity or hot weather so it may need to be reapplied more frequently.
  • Apply the sunscreen first and then apply the repellent. Be aware that DEET-containing repellents may decrease the sun protection factor (SPF) of sunscreens so you may need to re-apply the sunscreen more frequently.
  • Most skin repellents are safe for use on children aged three months and older when used according to directions, although some formulations are only recommended for children aged 12 months and older, so always check the product. Infants aged less than three months can be protected from mosquitoes by using an infant carrier draped with mosquito netting that is secured along the edges.
  • If camping, ensure the tent has fly screens to prevent mosquitoes entering.
  • Mosquito coils and other devices that release insecticides can assist reducing mosquito bites but should be used in combination with topical insect repellents.
  • Reduce all water holding containers around the home where mosquitoes could breed as they only need a small amount of liquid to reproduce in large numbers.

For further information on mosquito-borne disease and ways to protect yourself go to:

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/…/Pages/resources.aspx

Fact sheets on specific mosquito-borne diseases, including JE virus, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus, are available at:

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/…/Pages/factsheets.aspx

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