Campers urged to take extra precautions against mozzies

The City of Karratha is reminding residents and travellers to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites this Easter and school holiday period.

The warning follows a significant increase in Ross River virus (RRV) and Barmah Forest virus (BFV) cases in the Pilbara and Kimberley.

The Department of Health has also reported a substantial increase in activity of Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) and Kunjin (KUN) viruses, detected in sentinel chicken flocks located in the Pilbara and Kimberley region in the last month.

While no human cases of these viruses have been reported to date this season, residents and travelers are being warned to protect themselves against biting mosquitoes especially if camping or recreating outdoors.

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said people did not need to alter their plans to travel but should be mindful of the increased activity and take the necessary precautions to avoid being bitten.

“It is important that people heading away camping or outdoors protect themselves from mosquito bites this Easter and over the holiday period,” Cr Long said.

“These viruses are carried by mosquitoes and while the risk of being infected and becoming unwell is low, the illnesses can be severe.”

“People do not need to alter their plans to head away for the holidays, but it is important they take some simple steps to avoid mosquito bites when camping, fishing or undertaking any other activity outdoors,” Cr Long added.

“The City will continue to undertake mosquito control works within and around the towns, focussing on areas where there is standing water.  We will also be undertaking further fogging for adult mosquitoes,” Cr Long added

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Initial symptoms of MVE include fever, drowsiness, headache, stiff neck, nausea and dizziness. People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical advice quickly. In severe cases, people may experience fits, lapse into a coma, and may be left with permanent brain damage or die.

In young children, fever might be the only early sign, so parents should see their doctor if concerned, particularly if their child experiences drowsiness, floppiness, irritability, poor feeding, or general distress.

Simple steps to avoid mosquito bites are:

  • avoid outdoor exposure around dawn and early evening
  • wear protective (long, loose-fitting, light-coloured) clothing when outdoors
  • apply a personal repellent containing diethyl toluamide (DEET) or picaridin to exposed skin or clothing. The most effective and long-lasting formulations are lotions or gels. Natural or organic repellents are generally not as effective as DEET or picaridin or need to be reapplied more frequently.
  • use mosquito coils and mosquito lanterns and apply barrier sprays containing bifenthrin in patio and outdoor areas around houses
  • ensure insect screens are installed and in good condition on houses and caravans
  • use mosquito nets and mosquito-proof tents when camping
  • ensure infants and children are adequately protected against mosquito bites, preferably with suitable clothing, bed nets or other forms of insect screening.

Residents are also reminded to minimise mosquito breeding around the home by taking some simple steps to remove or modify breeding sites such as:

  • disposing of all containers which hold water
  • stocking ornamental ponds with fish and keeping vegetation away from the water’s edge
  • keeping swimming pools well chlorinated, filtered and free of dead leaves
  • filling or draining depressions in the ground that hold water
  • fitting mosquito proof covers to vent pipes on septic tank systems and sealing all gaps around the lid and ensure leach drains are completely covered
  • screening rainwater tanks with insect proof mesh, including inlet, overflow and inspection ports
  • ensuring guttering does not hold water
  • emptying pot plant drip trays once a week or fill them with sand
  • emptying and cleaning animal and pet drinking water bowls once a week.