Prevention is key to Fight the Bite
Residents in the Pilbara are being encouraged to “Fight the Bite” as part of a campaign to prevent people from being bitten by mosquitoes and to reduce the incidence of mosquito-borne disease in the coming weeks and summer months.
While many parts of WA enjoyed below-average numbers of mosquitoes last summer, higher mosquito numbers are expected to return this year.
The Department of Health’s Fight the Bite campaign encourages individuals to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes in three ways — covering up in long, loose-fitting clothing, applying a personal repellent containing DEET or picaridin, and cleaning up around the home to remove sources of stagnant water in which mosquitoes can breed.
Department of Health managing scientist of environmental health hazards Dr Mike Lindsay said an average of 1000 people were infected with a mosquito-borne disease each year in WA. “Mosquitoes in WA can transmit Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. In the northern regions of WA, the rarer, but more severe Kunjin and Murray Valley encephalitis viruses can also be transmitted by mosquitoes,” he said. “As there is no vaccine or specific cure for these diseases, the best way to avoid infection is to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.”
Symptoms of RRV and BFV include painful or swollen joints, sore muscles, skin rashes, fever, fatigue and headaches. Symptoms can last for weeks or months and the only way to diagnose infection is through a blood test. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit their GP.
Fight the Bite has been developed in response to research conducted by WA Health which revealed that while people are commonly bitten around their home, there is a general lack of awareness of the risks associated with mosquitoes and simple ways to protect themselves.
The following measures are advised:
Avoid outdoor exposure particularly at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear protective (long, loose-fitting, light coloured) clothing when outdoors.
Apply a personal repellent containing DEET or picaridin to exposed skin.
Empty or cover any standing water around the home or holiday accommodation to reduce mosquito breeding.
Ensure insect screens are installed and remain in good condition.
Visit healthywa.wa.gov.au/healthy-living/preventmosquito-bites or contact the Environmental Health section at the City of Karratha on 9186 8555.
Some mosquitoes carry serious diseases.